Jo Wedderspoon_2

Joanne Wedderspoon

Development Manager

Charities Aid Foundation

International Women's Day 2019

8 March 2019

A look at some of the amazing women we support

The theme for International Women’s Day this year, “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”, puts innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality.  

International Women’s Day is not just about women’s rights or gender equality, it’s about making the whole world a better, more balanced place to live. People living in a balanced world can see both sides of opinion, they respect other people’s feelings and they champion those who want to make change happen to ensure we live a balanced life.  

Backs of women walking together

The Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisation’s (ACEVO) annual survey published in January 2019 showed that 58% of senior roles in voluntary organisations were occupied by women. Social Enterprise UK’s recent report The Hidden Revolution said that 42% of social enterprises are led by women. Our current portfolio of over 120 investee organisations has 39% female CEOs. It’s worth noting that this is lower than the last time we counted – we will keep reviewing this. Whilst we do not use gender as a lens through which we look at a social investment application, we are very conscious that it is important to find the right balance. Don’t worry though; we won’t turn down a loan because the CEO is a man!

The CAF Venturesome team is 58% women, our main investment committee is 43%, and our smaller specialist fund investment committees are approximately 70% women. A fair balance we feel!

The UN is encouraging us all to increase the visibility and recognition of female trailblazers.

So today, on International Women’s Day 2019, we celebrate the wonderful women leading innovation in our social investment portfolio.   Thank you to you all for your hard work and dedication. We haven’t got the room to highlight all your stories so here is a small snapshot of some of the women we are privileged to support.

Babs Harris – CEO, Alzheimer’s Support

Alzheimer’s Support is an award-winning local charity which exists to improve the quality of life of families affected by dementia in Wiltshire. Babs leads Alzheimer's Support with energy and vision. She was selected onto the King's Fund Cascading Leadership programme and leads on Wiltshire's Dementia Roadmap project.

Gemma Holding – CEO, Cancer Support UK

Cancer Support UK provides practical and emotional support to people living with cancer, both during and after the treatment period. They support people with all kinds of cancer across the UK.  In her first year as CEO of Cancer Support UK Gemma received a Judges Recognition Award from ACEVO acknowledging the significant contribution she's made to the organisation and was a finalist for Rising CEO Star at the Charity Times Awards 2017.

Jo Clay – Founder & Managing Director, Empower – Be the Change

Jo’s mission is to create a dynamic company that empowers people through positive change.  Empower - Be the Change was founded by Jo following 18 months work in collaboration with Vi-Ability setting up, delivering and managing the very successful "India Adventure" international volunteer program. Empower - Be The Change is now able to grow its team and programme delivery across North Wales with the ambitious target of empowering over 1,000 people by 2023. 

Anna Fiorentini – Founder and Managing Director, The Anna Fiorentini Theatre & Film School

The Anna Fiorentini Theatre & Film School in London gives children from all backgrounds and abilities the opportunity to learn valuable performing arts skills; building confidence and opening up the world of TV, film and stage. The Fiorentini Foundation generates income for the bursaries from fundraising and its social enterprise, Stage & The City, which offers adult after-work performing arts classes and team-building events. Since 2011 it has provided financial assistance to over 350 children. In November 2012, Anna won the award for Inspirational Leader / Business Person for the Camden and Islington Business Awards. 

Ruth and Amy Anslow – Co-Founders, HISBE

HISBE, founded by sisters Ruth and Amy Anslow, is an innovative supermarket in Brighton, powered by local people, community spirit and a social enterprise model. HISBE provides a unique product range based on fair, responsible and sustainable sourcing and trading. They champion Sussex farmers and local producers. They offer hundreds of unpackaged products; so that customers can avoid single-use plastic.

Pauline Crowe - Chief Executive, Prisoners Abroad

Prisoners Abroad is a humanitarian, welfare and human rights charity based in North London that provides information, advice and support for British citizens who are imprisoned abroad, particularly those in countries where standards severely breach prisoners’ human rights. Prisoners Abroad also supports families affected, and help prisoners with resettlement in the UK when they are released from prison.  Pauline has been Chief Executive of Prisoners Abroad since 2003 and was awarded an OBE in 2007 in recognition of the organisation’s vital work. 

Gill Haworth – Founder and CEO, IAC – The Centre for Adoption

Originally a government-funded helpline, IAC (in its formative guise) became the independent charity, Overseas Adoption Helpline in 1997, established by director Gill Haworth.  IAC is the largest facilitator of intercountry adoptions in the UK a year, offering both intercountry and domestic adoption programmes, which has been accredited by international agencies.  IAC’s domestic adoption programme focuses on “hard to place” UK children, covering children with disabilities, developmental delay, or health uncertainty as well as those who are in sibling groups, of black minority ethnic groups, or older children. 

Caroline Morgan – Chief Executive, Local Food Links

Caroline joined Local Food Links as the School Meals Development Manager in 2006, with a brief to set up a service delivering hot meals to all eight Bridport primary schools daily. The organisation, and Caroline’s role, expanded rapidly and she became Chief Executive in March 2012. As a not-for-profit organisation, they can focus on quality and service.

They work hard to source the best quality ingredients, making things from scratch, so they know exactly what goes into each and every meal. They now supply 50 schools, producing approx. 3,700 meals daily, across Dorset (plus 2 in Somerset and Devon). CAF Venturesome has built a strong relationship with Caroline since 2011.  In February 2019 Local Food Links won the Federation of Small Businesses Scale Up Business of the Year in the South West Region.  

Beth Honig - Director UK, Ubuntu Pathways

Ubuntu Pathways is a non-profit organisation that provides an integrated support system of health, education, and social support in the townships of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Beth provides strategic leadership to Ubuntu Pathways’s office in London. Working closely with philanthropists, foundations, and corporate partners, Beth continues to strengthen Ubuntu’s support base in the UK. In April 2016, Beth won the prestigious NGO Promotion of Development Award at the UK’s South African Chamber of Commerce.

Some of these charities can be found on our find a charity page. So, use our search function and choose a registered charity that you want to help.

"We’re very proud of the social impact and innovation you have all achieved, and we are so excited at supporting your organisations’ development."

Holly Piper, Head of CAF Venturesome

If you're a social organisation looking for help or a philanthropist looking to have more impact, talk to our team on 03000 123 300 or email us at and we’ll be happy to help.