Yann Borgstedt in 2016
Yann Borgstedt is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and the founder of The Womanity Foundation, which focuses on women's and girls' empowerment on an international scale. He also sits on various boards and has a portfolio of social investments.
Early life and career
Yann Borgstedt was born and raised in Geneva and educated in the United States. In 1996 he co-founded the web design firm Netarchitects, that was later sold to Altran Technologies. He then worked for a private fund on the redevelopment of the former United States Airforce base Bentwaters in Suffolk, England. He went on to create, invest and manage a variety of diverse business activities in the fields of real estate development and exhibition handling in France, England and Switzerland.
Yann has since focused on green development projects including the most recent plans for the development of a green neighborhood in Geneva's Praille-Acacias-Vernets (PAV) district, creating 400 residential apartments (including two-thirds for social housing) and a green residential tower.
The Womanity Foundation
In 2005, Yann started The Womanity Foundation which focuses on women's education, training and development in Afghanistan, Brazil, India, the Middle East and North Africa.
Womanity includes within its projects the set-up of the first radio exclusively for and by women in the Middle East, called Radio Nisaa FM. Womanity produced a radio fiction series, Worth 100 Men – "Be 100 Ragl" in Arabic, in which the role and rights of women in Arabic societies is the main theme. Mona Zaki, the film's star, plays the lead role and the theme tune is written and performed by the Arabic star Nancy Ajram. Between March and September 2014, the fiction series was broadcast on 10 radio stations across 9 countries in the Arab world, namely Palestine, Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
In a further evolution of the work in favour of women’s progress, the WomenChangeMakers program was launched in 2011 in order to identify and support social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to women’s advancement. The program was inspired by the Ashoka model, which Yann became familiar with over the past years, notably through his participation in the Ashoka Support Network in Switzerland and France where he works with the fellow François Marty on green social housing.
Since 2007, the Womanity Foundation has supported one of Afghanistan’s largest girls’ schools – The Al Fatah School in Kabul, Afghanistan (over 5,000 girls), to become a model of excellence in education. Based on this experience, Womanity launched in July 2011 School in a Box - Advancing Girls’ Education in Afghanistan, a three-year program co-funded by the UBS Optimus Foundation, aimed at replicating the successful Al Fatah successful model in a dozen schools in different provinces of Afghanistan.
In 2015, the Womanity Foundation was listed among the top 500 NGOs.
Other work and recognition
Yann is on the advisory board of the EDGE Certifier, a Swiss foundation working in partnership with the World Economic Forum, committed to creating a world where men and women are equally valued and respected in all aspects of economic, political and social life. He is also on the board of Internews, an international non-profit organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect and the means to make their voices heard.
Yann has been welcomed by Women Moving Millions as the first European and as one of the rare male members in recognition of his contribution to women’s empowerment. It was an honour for him to be invited to speak at the 2013 TEDx CoventGardenWomen. In this powerful talk, Yann demonstrates the benefits of investing in girls and women. Yann received the BNP Paribas Award for Individual Philanthropy (Special Jury Prize) in May 2016.
- "The Womanity Foundation". womanity.org.
- "Radio Nisaa". website.
- Worth 100 Men
- "BBC World News". Y. Borgstedt and M. Gangat interviewed by Yalda Hakim (July 2014).
- "Al-Mograb Emtyaz". Palestinian women's radio crosses boundaries (November 2011).
- "Anne Barker - ABC". Radio Nisaa: Middle Eastern women have their say (November 2011).
- "How one tiny radio station hopes to change the way Palestine treats its women". The Telegraph (Dec 2013).
- "Worth 100 Men: Arabic Radio Fiction for Women's Empowerment" (PDF). Report 2013.
- "WomenChangeMakers's program". The Womanity Foundation.
- "François Marty". Founder of Chenelet.
- UBS Optimus Foundation
- "School in a Box program". The Womanity Foundation.
- "School in a Box program" (PDF). Summary report 2015.
- "The Womanity Award program". The Womanity Foundation.
- "Top 500 NGOs". website.
- "The EDGE Certifier". former Gender Equality Project.
- "Yann Borgstedt Internews". Yann Borsgstedt Internews Board Member.
- "Women Moving Millions". website.
- "2013 TEDx CoventGardenWomen". Youtube.