Dalia Mogahed, the Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington D.C. stated, “When you meet another woman who is crazy smart, amazingly talented, and way wiser than you were at her age, do just one thing: invest. Lift her up, promote her, do whatever you can to make sure she surpasses you in every way.”
When Comfort, the founder and CEO of Ele Agbe, started working with recycled glass jewelry 29 years ago, she found support in her boss, Kati: a fellow Ghanaian woman.
Comfort explained that from a young age, Kati saw more in her than Comfort saw in herself. “From day one, she trusted me and thought I could go further than the place I was starting from.”
Kati invested in Comfort.
Comfort, Founder and CEO of Ele Agbe
“She opened her home, her arms, and her heart to me. She encouraged me to start something of my own.” The support and encouragement Kati gave Comfort provided her with the confidence to embark on her own business endeavors, eventually starting Ele Agbe: a company in Ghana that now employs 72 artisans, 64 of which are women, and supports 330 dependents.
“To this day, when I see her at a function, she holds my hand and says ‘take out your business cards,’ and introduces me to her friends at the event--and she has a lot.”
Hand-in-hand, Kati walks around the room with Comfort, helping her network and ensuring that people know about the quality work Ele Agbe produces.”
The continuous support and encouragement that Comfort has received from Kati motivates her to continue investing in the women she employs, enabling them to be more successful both within their job, outside of their job, and in their future endeavors.
According to research from the Harvard Business Review, women who have a close inner circle of contacts are more likely to gain entrance into executive positions with higher pay and more leadership opportunities. Which is to say, when women have people supporting them, they can accomplish more than they could on their own, just as Comfort moved from an artisan working with glass jewelry to the founder and CEO of her own company.
For women working at Ele Agbe, this support has led many to starting their own businesses, finding additional sources of income, and feeling more confident in their financial situation and leadership abilities.
“I want to give back like [Kati] has given to me, so I invest in the women I work with. For me, Ele Agbe is all about giving back. When I see where I came from, and what someone else has imparted in my life, it is a challenge to give back. There have been people who have helped me, and if I do not do the same to the people who come my way, I am not showing gratitude.”
Just as Comfort continues to invest in the women around her, research shows that when women experience success, they are more likely to invest a greater percentage of their earnings back into their communities and families in comparison to their male counterparts. This means that the success of women often leads to the collective success of others.