Our mission is to provide the resources, opportunities and inspiration that will give girls a voice.”
To mark International Women’s Day at Great Little Box Company, we are honoured to spotlight our customer, AG Hair and the incredible work they are doing to educate and empower girls in sub-Saharan Africa. Movements like #TimesUp and #Metoo are inspiring change around the world. Lotte Davis, the founder of One Girl Can, is using her passion and platform to support girls to get an education, find a career, and follow their dreams.
Lotte Davis’s passion for Africa began at birth. Born in South Africa, Davis spent the first 9 years of her life in an entirely different culture than Canada. Regularly witnessing segregation, discrimination, and violence, her family escaped to Canada in the early 60’s. While the violence in Africa had been left behind, Davis found that even the developed country of Canada positioned women as inferior to men in almost every segment of society.
Throughout her teens and early 20’s, Davis worked hard to build her own success. Working alongside her husband, she founded Vancouver-based AG-Hair in 1989, a professional hair company whose products can be found in thousands of salons around the world. But her ties to Africa compelled her to do something more and give back in a meaningful way.
In 2008, Davis realized her dream to go back to Africa in order to impact gender equality for girls living in extreme poverty. She began by buildings schools in some of the most marginalized regions of Kenya. But while a good education can begin with a dynamic learning environment, the buildings alone weren’t going to be enough to create real opportunity for girls in such extreme conditions.
“Girls in Africa are routinely sent home from school because their families don’t have the funds to pay for education,” explained Davis. “So in 2013, we started a scholarship program for 11 girls in high school. 5 years later, we have 290 girls on high school scholarships.”
Once the scholarship program began, Davis had a more direct link to the girls participating, and was able to affect change more directly. She was able to support their education, guide their goal-setting and create a mentorship program.
‘We began a series of workshops. Through each year of high school, these workshops teach girls how to create a vision for the life they want, learn what skills they possess, find careers that fit those skills, and set goals for their future. Our mission is to provide the resources, opportunities, and inspiration that will give girls a voice.”
And it’s working. Davis said in 2017 she had 67 African girls on university scholarships and accepted another 61 in 2018. One Girl Can’s commitment to fostering a cycling of empowerment through mentorship is what has allowed even the most marginalized girls to reach their full potential.
“Mentoring helps girls envision a brighter future. These workshop teach girls that anything is possible as long as they have a vision, helping us to create a cycle of sustainability. It is empowering and it is what truly makes an impact.”
Davis says the key to One Girl Can’s success is building, educating and mentoring. Building schools, providing scholarships and mentoring students is having a huge impact, and giving girls a voice.
Davis, who raised 2 daughters of her own, is doing everything she can to provide opportunities to the girls she works with and to make a significant impact on gender equality. Her passion and determination fuel her to return to Africa year after to see what more can be done and how her girls are progressing through life. Davis is changing lives and shiting the needle on poverty and gender inequality. Her work is inspiring, empowering and, above all truly impactful. On International’s Women’s Day and every day, we celebrate women across the globe, and those, like Davis, who are working tirelessly to create an equal world for women.