Skip to main content

Global challenge honors women advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals

Collage of portraits of the We Empower Challenge 2023 awardees.
September 15, 2023

A key part of creating a habitable world for current and future generations is finding innovative, scalable solutions to the world's biggest challenges.

Each year, the WEwomen entrepreneurs Empower U.N. SDG Challenge, co-convened by Arizona State University’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and Vital Voices Global Partnership, brings together a diverse selection of women entrepreneurs from around the world who are addressing these challenges and advancing the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through their businesses.

The awardees of the 2023 challenge were recently announced, and they include entrepreneurs representing five different regions of the world who are tackling a variety of challenges that intersect with the U.N. SDGs.

"The 2023 WE Empower U.N. SDG Challenge Awardees represent a diverse array of women entrepreneurs from around the globe who are dedicated to shaping a brighter global future by aligning with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals," said Amanda Ellis, a former U.N. ambassador and senior director of global partnerships with the Global Futures Laboratory who works closely with the WE Empower initiative.

"These remarkable women serve as both inspirations and advocates within their respective communities. They motivate and pave the way for others who aspire to address today's significant challenges through sustainable, inclusive business practices, driven by purpose and profitability alike. ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Lab takes immense pride in amplifying the voices and stories of these women entrepreneurs through the WE Empower U.N. SDG Challenge."

The awardees will attend events surrounding the 78th U.N. General Assembly in New York City during the week of Sept. 18, where they will receive capacity-building training sessions and networking opportunities to advance their work and impact. They will also participate in a dynamic pitch competition, hosted by philanthropist and activist Diane von Furstenberg, to present their business for the opportunity to receive a $10,000 grant. Additionally, the awardees will be honored at the sold-out Global Futures Conference, hosted by the Global Futures Laboratory, that is taking place at the same time.

The 2023 WE Empower awardees and the U.N. SDGs they support are:

Andrea ‘Andy’ Blair, co-founder and director of business and innovation, Upflow, New Zealand
Blair’s business supports the following SDGs:

  • SDG 2: Zero Hunger.
  • SDG 5: Gender Equality.
  • SDG 12: Climate Action.

Karin Sempf, CEO and founder, Innova Nation, Panama
Sempf’s business supports the following SDGs:

  • SDG 4: Quality Education.
  • SDG 5: Gender Equality.
  • SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

Susan Blanchet, CEO and founder, Origen Air, Canada
Blanchet’s business supports the following SDGs:

  • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being.
  • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.
  • SDG 13: Climate Action.

Menna Farouk, co-founder, Dosy, Egypt
Farouk’s business supports the following SDGs:

  • SDG 5: Gender Equality
  • SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Diana Mbogo, founder and managing director, Millennium Engineers, Tanzania
Mbogo’s business supports the following SDGs:

  • SDG 5: Gender Equality.
  • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy.
  • SDG 13: Climate Action.

The WE Empower U.N. SDG Challenge is a unit of the ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and operates in partnership with Vital Voices. It is supported by partners at Bank of Montreal (BMO), Competent Boards, Diane von Furstenberg, GroYourBiz, Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden, Mary Kay, Match Group, Oxford University Said Business School, P&G, RELX, Salesforce, the U.N. Foundation and the World Bank.

More Environment and sustainability


Kids hands holding up globe

Celebrating Earth Day around the world

Originating in the United States in 1970, Earth Day is now celebrated worldwide. But even before it became an official day, many…

April 19, 2024
Oil rig shown against a colorful sunset

A run on fossil fuels: ASU professor says climate legislation could have unintended consequences

As concerns about climate change grow, policymakers are increasingly voicing support for stricter fossil fuel legislation. Their…

April 19, 2024
People sorting through waste for recyclables

Confusion complicates US recycling efforts

In most major cities and buildings, recycling bins can often be found alongside trash bins in an effort to encourage recycling.…

April 18, 2024