Current Grant Winners

We are delighted to announce the winners of the second Giving Joy Women Entrepreneur Grant! We will follow their progress and provide monthly updates on their activities on the Giving Joy site. Please congratulate our winners!

Nina Selvagio

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Nina Selvagio is a nonprofit professional with twenty years of leadership experience in the social sector. Her core passion, expertise and abilities are grounded in her goal to integrate improved ways of operating so talent can focus their time and energy on bringing a mission to life. After twenty years of working around nonprofit’s challenges, Nina decided to stop noticing the problems in one organization and instead, offer the following solutions and strategies to as many organizations as she can. She started her own consulting practice to cultivate ideal management styles and leaders that inspire staff to be their best selves and challenge them to grow. She wants organizations to model transparency and analyze — then optimize — sustainable systems and operations to make them hum. Lastly, she is passionate about employee programs that emphasize staff humanity to build diverse, bright, supportive, inclusive, and collaborative cultures where everyone can thrive and want to help organizations embrace their staff with the same level of commitment that they do for their fundraising programs.

She is a social justice junky and has served on dozens of boards for nonprofits throughout her life. She has volunteered to be a mentoring mom for new moms, worked on political campaigns in her free time, and tries to always speak truth to power for marginalized communities. She attended the People’s Institute anti-racism training and constantly tries to be a solid ally to those whose identities she doesn’t share, speak up for the voiceless (she is first generation to this country and first person in my family to go to college) and recognize my privileges. Additionally, as a married lesbian with two children, she wants to create a world in which we are accepted, respected, embraced and celebrated.

The Giving Joy grant will help Nina pay for a certificate/master’s program that she was recently accepted to at University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy. The program will allow Nina: (1) to learn new skills, techniques, and gain tools that she can use with her clients to improve their leadership skills and optimize their impact; (2) make connections to brainstorm, share information and best practices to improve her practice and her classmates and their work in their communities; (3) widen her network of potential organizations she can work with and help them move towards their missions.

RIA House, Inc. (Ready.Inspire.Act)

RIA House, Inc. (Ready.Inspire.Act) is committed to providing empowering, supportive, and clinical services to adult women with experience in the commercial sex trade and its associated exploitation, sex trafficking, and prostitution in Massachusetts. Sisters Leading Sisters, their recovery and healing program, uses a survivor-engaged, clinical team approach, with small caseloads and the capacity to provide mobile support across all levels of care. Specific services include case management, support groups, clinical therapy, peer mentorship, and referral assistance.

Established in 2014, they have grown from a team of volunteers and one part-time staff person working out of our cars, cafes, libraries, and other borrowed spaces, serving five women, to a growing organization with six staff members that work out of two offices serving over 200 women each year. They are in the early stages of establishing a social justice enterprise that will both provide sustainable income for RIA’s program costs and provide job skills and a caring community for women recovering from experiences in the commercial sex trade. Their goal is for women survivors to be employed in their justice enterprise on a part-time basis while also participating in the Sisters Leading Sisters recovery program.

In October 2018 they launched their first product, an all-natural deodorant. Their hope is for this pilot product to raise awareness about our work, increase the size of their individual donor base, and begin earning money to sustain our work. They make the deodorant in three scents: lavender, tea tree, and unscented. Their product is currently available for sale on the website: http://riahouse.org/shop.html. Since October they have sold 155 deodorant jars, generating $1,550 in revenue about half in profits. A grant from Giving Joy would cover their upfront material costs, boosting our initial profits so they can get closer to their goal of employing women survivors.

Maama Ssekandi Foundation

Founded in 2015 in Mukono District, Nama Village, Uganda, the Maama Ssekandi Foundation (a registered non profit) supports single mothers (widows women, women abandoned by their husbands) through its small savings scheme (or SACCO), and craft making. The Foundation also provides orphans with scholastic materials, school fees, and counselling to those infected with HIV/AIDS.

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A grant from Giving Joy will help the Foundation buy a metal finishing machine (instead of renting a machine and controller). The funds will also help hire more experienced people to teach women additional skills such as baking, starting small businesses, tailoring and also providing counselling and guidance. For orphans, the funds will go towards constructing a children’s home.


Recent Grant Winners

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We Ceremony

Iliana Panameño and Mu-Chieh Yun are the founders of We, Ceremony, a digital platform that uses storytelling to empower and celebrate all women of color. In using personal narratives as a tool, they create representation and genuine and dignified opportunities for women of color. Through storytelling, they have created a community of fearless, innovative, and beautiful women of color. Today, We, Ceremony is a network of over 2,000 women of color who take pride in their lived experiences and are redefining what it means to be both a woman and a person of color. Their approach in using storytelling as a tool humanizes the way we exist in this world and facilitates intentional spaces where they can have dialogues on the issues and challenges impacting our communities. They will use the Giving Joy grant to cover the operational costs (marketing, refreshments, and equipment) for our events in 2019. Ultimately, with their collected stories, they want We, Ceremony to be the go-to hub or decision-maker in messaging, products, or services that are targeted towards our communities.

Lilian Chebet

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Lilian Chebet is from Western County in Kenya. She grows onions on a small scale farm. Farming supports her and also helps her siblings. Her goal is to grow her business to get enough funds to support here siblings with school fees so they may have a brighter future. She will use the grant to boost her farm, enable her to grow more crops, buy fertilization and other supplies and expand her business.


Ngoc-Tran Vu

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Ngoc-Tran Vu is a Vietnamese American multimedia artist and cultural organizer. Her socially engaged practice draws from her experience in community organizing, education and healing. Her art provokes thoughts and questions surrounding identity, community, politics, and spirituality. She was born in Saigon, Vietnam and grew up in Dorchester and South Boston, both working-class neighborhoods of Massachusetts. Her family came to the United States as political refugees from the Vietnam War and it is through this lens that her sense of the world is shaped.

She is a working artist and her business is her art practice titled “Tran Vu Arts” in community-based projects and engagement. Her vision in the next 1-2 years is to grow her business and practice so that she can sustain herself as a full-time artist based on funded projects, commissioned work and perhaps teaching gigs here and there. She will use the Giving Joy grant to educate herself in stronger financial management and organization to create a more sustainable practice.

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Dorcas King'ori

Dorcas King'ori is a young entrepreneur from Kenya. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), however, after graduation she could not find employment. She did not give up and had the urge to become a business woman. She invested 5000 Kenya Shillings (approx. $50) and started buying and selling handbags (which she loves as many women do). She aspires to increase her business online and improve her store as well as mentor other women who did not even go to school how to make a living independently. Dorcas will use the Giving Joy grant to increase stock, and buy a larger variety of goods to satisfy her customers.