Entrepreneurial Award winner – Lorena Carrasco
Lorena is Managing Director and co-founder of Ñustas, a social start-up breaking down the barriers to women’s professional development. Its reach is global, with a thriving online community of over 2,500 women.
Ñustas supports women to grow their careers through mentoring, training and networking opportunities. Since 2017 it has helped more than 100 women to renegotiate their salaries, become entrepreneurs, and apply for study and career opportunities abroad.
Lorena also advises organisations on how to improve gender diversity in the workplace. At financial company InterCorp, she led the delivery of a mentoring programme to support high-achieving women to move into senior positions.
Her work builds confidence, helping women to re-enter the workplace after having children and to become advocates for themselves and others in male-dominated industries.
‘I never imagined myself as an entrepreneur, but being in such a diverse and intellectually stimulating environment like LSE sharpened my curiosity and equipped me with the tools to help women accelerate their career growth. This experience broadened my understanding of what I can achieve and convinced me that I can contribute to social change on a global scale.’
Lorena was inspired to found Ñustas after completing an MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology at the London School of Economics (LSE). Studying in the UK was a turning point in Lorena’s career. It challenged her to think critically, and gave her the skills and confidence to begin her journey as an entrepreneur.
She describes the diverse cultures, perspectives and experiences she enjoyed at LSE as the highlight of her UK education. Her studies enriched her understanding of gender inequality, and informed both Ñustas’s ethos and diverse, all-women leadership.
Professional Achievement Award winner – Dr Weston Khisa
Weston is a renowned gynaecologist and fistula surgeon at Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya. He is committed to eliminating and destigmatising fistula, a debilitating condition that causes women to leak urine after childbirth.
Weston has performed more than 4,000 successful restorative surgeries across Africa. Most of them have been in disadvantaged rural areas and at no cost to the patient.
The taboo surrounding fistula can isolate women from their communities and livelihoods. Weston’s work is opening up vital conversations and supporting women to rebuild their lives.
In 2015 the United Nations Population Fund recognised Weston for his outstanding contribution to fistula surgery. He has since been named Medical Personality of the Year and won Harvard University’s inaugural Maternal Health Visionary Award. He is now leading the development of Kenya’s first national strategy to end fistula.
‘On many occasions, I have said to people: ‘If you dream of being a great person tomorrow, study in the UK, you can’t go wrong!’ The supportive environment, professionalism, teamwork, state-of-the-art technologies makes learning an interesting and joyful life event. I am glad through my work that many young clinicians and midwives are already studying in the UK.’
Dr Weston Khisa
Weston completed his PhD at the University of Manchester under the guidance of Professor Dame Tina Lavender DBE. He was particularly impressed by the quality of the academic teaching, and by the encouragement, professionalism and expertise of his UK mentors.
Studying in the UK helped Weston’s research gain international recognition. He has since been approached to publish a book on fistula surgery, and continues to share his expertise with colleagues in Africa, at international conferences, and in published research.
Social Impact Award winner – Albert Opoku
Albert is the co-founder of hapaSpace, the first co-working hub in Kumasi, Ghana. HapaSpace provides technology, training and mentorship opportunities which are crucial to helping local entrepreneurs and start-ups transform their ideas and prototypes into viable products and services.
Since its launch in 2016 hapaSpace has supported more than 1,000 young people to develop their businesses. It has grown to become the largest community of its kind in Ghana, with more than 1,200 members.
Albert’s work is contributing to Ghana’s growing tech and start-up ecosystem, driving job creation and social change. In 2017 he organised the first Django Girls coding workshop in the country. He has since helped to deliver coding workshops to more than 2,000 women, and assisted the launch of Kumasi’s first women-only business hub.
Through partnerships with organisations including the British Council and Facebook, Albert has supported start-ups to raise over one million Ghanaian cedi and organised training and networking events for more than 4,500 people.
‘During my time in the UK, I attended a lot of tech and entrepreneurship events. I learnt a lot from meeting with the organisers and founders of these meet-ups, and the lessons have enabled me to build the biggest entrepreneurship, arts and tech community in Kumasi.
‘A UK education is like a valuable tool, but a tool in itself is of no use if it is not used. A UK education should be used not just for personal career development, but as a tool to make the lives of others better.’
Studying in the UK raised Albert’s profile, giving him the opportunity to build international connections. He has since turned these connections into partnerships: in 2017 he won a Google educator grant to launch Code4Girls, which trained 1,242 girls in computer programming.