Introducing myself and my journal: Because I'm worth it!

Carmen Banga
Posted April 1, 2014 from Switzerland

About Me:My passion is to create new innovative financial tools to empower women in developing countries.

About fifteen years ago, after completing my studies in finance and banking, I embarked on a career path that had been selected by my father according to society's standards. I worked in private banking, in investment banking and in private equity in several countries. I also worked on a trading floor for two years. From a woman’s perspective, this type of environment was harsh, challenging and limiting. Even so, I was always part of a pioneering team, developing new markets and financial instruments in Latin America and in Eastern Europe.

I had always been involved in fund-raising initiatives for various causes and organisations. I tend to think outside the box especially when it comes to fund-raising. Einstein said: ‘Logic will take you from A to B; imagination will take you anywhere’. So I had fun creating successful fund-raising ventures such as the ‘Invisible Ball’, 0.01% of 1 day’s trade margins given to charity, and a theatre play by underprivileged children for the City of London.

In 2000, in parallel with my regular job, I founded ‘Second Chance’, an education project in Brazil – now existing under The business model was very simple: education and a skilled trade. Teenagers from the shantytowns surrounding Sao Paulo attended semi-government owned schools and acquired skilled trades such as: electrician, mechanic, orange picker, baker, and seamstress. We formed partnerships with Brazilian and international corporations who were looking for skilled employees to work in their factories. The corporations paid for each student’s tuition, all the way through to the completion of the apprenticeship after which, they employed the newly graduated students. That was the main condition: employment. We started shyly with 12 students. A few years later we were placing about 5000 students in the project. Companies were approaching us when thinking of opening factories and planning to employ skilled staff. Productivity was soaring, teenagers were coming out of poverty and a new local economy was born. The model is simple enough to be replicated anywhere else in the world. The key to the success is to involve actively all parties: the students, the parents (some of the unemployed fathers were driving the school buses), the teachers, the schools, the government, the companies, and the community, in other words, being responsible and working towards self-empowerment and also the empowerment of their local communities. A couple of success stories: one of the girls who went through this project was so brilliant that she was sponsored further through university and medical school. She is now a doctor. Two boys excelled in mechanics, so they were sent to work at Mercedes Benz in Germany for six months.

In 2011, I became a Business Mentor with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women in Business. My mentee is based in Kenya. One of my achievements this year is the feedback received from her: ‘You taught me a business a lot more than just making profit it is also about how will I benefit society. That was one of my greatest lessons’. In addition to setting up her seed business Mavuno Seed and her Agriculture Consultancy Services Company, Angela - my mentee - has been named Interim Vice Chair for the AIN (Agricultural Industry Newtork) in Kenya.

Above all, I am aiming at mentoring; speaking, teaching women and helping them find their power and use it. It is only a question of time before women are equal to men in decision-making from a community to a Government level. This is the year when the ‘domino’ effect starts. Technology such as Twitter is also helping tremendously. Women’s voices throughout the world need to be heard. Women need to be given the chance to find, and use, their inner and outer power.

Mentoring is an extraordinary tool. Alas not many people use it. I too have a mentor. He is fantastic. He is my secure base and I can check in with him any time. His objectivity helps me stay on track.

As a child, I had a dream of becoming an architect. I am an architect - in a way. I do not build houses. But I do build structures that create meaning and long-term value for the environment, communities and society.

To conclude, one memory I would like to share. One Sunday morning when I was 8 years old, I went to see my dad who was having breakfast. I told him that life was like a washing machine: you had to go through many cycles, before coming out clean. He looked at me, almost in shock.

So to everyone out there, always speak up your mind and embrace the spinning cycles of life, as these will bring you to a point of fulfilment you would have never imagined. And remember to taste all the colours of the rainbow, so that you know what you like and what you dislike. When you stumble, take time off, do some soul-searching, and try something else.

My Passions:Women's Empowerment

My Challenges:Stereotyping attitudes, sexism, glass ceiling.

My Vision for the Future:The world is designed with a new mindset bringing tools to empower women to gain equal economic freedom, allowing them to be in charge of their destiny

My Areas of Expertise:Finance, creation of start ups, implementation, bridging public/private, business mentoring for women in developing countries, creating projects from scratch, turning ideas into reality.

Comments 5

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Apr 02, 2014
Apr 02, 2014

Welcome to the community! You are now part of a thriving network of grassroots women leaders and supporters from more than 190 countries. See the Getting Started Guide to learn more about networking in our community:

you have made my day today as your inspiration just got to my heart. the biggest lesson I have learnt you can be who you want to be and there is no failure in life. also, speak your mind. in a community where a woman speaking her mind is unwelcome I appreciate the words even more.

I encourage you to participate and share more stories about your community.

I look forward to hearing your voice in the community!

In friendship,


Carmen Banga
Apr 02, 2014
Apr 02, 2014

Dear Pela,

Thank you very much for your warm welcoming note and for your feedback. I am glad I touched your heart : ) and yes, this is the time when women's voices will rise. I am working towards that and many people around the world are just ilke me: creating a new mindset revolution to empower women globally. Empowerment to me refers to increasing the economic, political, social, educational, gender, or spiritual strength of individuals and communities.

I look forward to connecting with you and other peers on this platform and to sharing the journey.

Kind wishes, Carmen

Ariane Assumani
Apr 02, 2014
Apr 02, 2014

Bienvenu à WOLRD PULSE j'espère que vous apprécierer faire partie de cette communauté des femmes de beaucoup de pays à travers le monde. Nous pouvons trouver des solutions pour mettre fin à la violence faite aux femmes et à faire un monde de paix et sécurité pour nos familles de notre génération présente mais aussi et surtout celle futur. Nous entendons votre voix sur les histoier de votre vie. A bientôt

Marie-Claire Kuja
Apr 03, 2014
Apr 03, 2014

Hello Carmen.

That was such an excellent write-up.Am greatly inspired and feel like reading your story over and over .I am all about women and girls empowerment which is parallel with what you're also doing, especially with those from developing countries. I also see you have so much experience with fundraising.I will definitely be glad if we can connect. Together we are stronger.

Yours truly,

Marie Claire Kuja.

P/S ,You may also be interested in checking out some of my work with girls and women around the world at the following websites:
Apr 09, 2014
Apr 09, 2014

FRENCH Chère Madame Carmen Roméro, Nous sommes très admiratifs à l’égard du témoignage de votre brillant parcourt (votre curriculum vitae en fait) et vous en félicitons. Puissiez-vous partager votre expérience avec les femmes de la RDC également ! Bienvenue dans la grande famille de World Pulse. Sympathie à vous et à vous lire bientôt peut-être. ENGLISH Dear Mrs. Carmen Romero, We're very appreciative with regard to the testimony of your brilliant runs (your resume in fact) and congratulate you. Can you share your experience with women of the DRC also! Welcome to the growing family of World Pulse. Sympathy to you and read you soon maybe. Joseph-Jacques MUGEREKE KISAHIRA (JJM) Bénévole/Volunteer for World Pulse Tél. +243997774376; +243812116997 E-mail: [email protected]World Pulse T. 503.331.3900 | F. 503.914.1418 Follow us on Facebook and Twitter Connecting Women's Voices to Transform Our World