by: Ymijan Baftijari
Women are powerful.
Strong, hard-working, and creative, we’re finally getting some well-deserved recognition in the ever-growing community of entrepreneurs. And Toyota is making sure you don’t forget it with two incredible programs aimed to honor women trailblazers.
Toyota's Mothers of Invention (MOI) series is a platform that highlights women who are positively contributing to their communities through innovation, entrepreneurship, and invention. It puts women's work at the forefront and profiles the influential leaders of the future, right now. Since 2012, the 16 women-led organizations honored by Toyota have touched more than 160 million people in over 155 countries worldwide.
Toyota’s Everyday Heroes program honors women who are working to establish healthy, positive lifestyle habits, and promote and grow sports for girls and women in their local communities. Each year at the espnW Women + Sports Summit, Toyota recognizes three women who are doing just that.
As their roster of inspiring women continues to grow, we honed in on two trailblazers who are encouraging us to take the world by storm. Ready for some high-speed motivation?
First up, Komal Ahmad. She's the founder and CEO of COPIA, a technology-enabled logistics company that recovers, redistributes and delivers food to feed communities in need in real time.
Ahmad believes that hunger in the United States occurs not due to lack of food, but due to an inequitable distribution of it. Fifty million people nationwide suffer from food insecurity, while 365 million pounds of perfectly edible food goes to waste every day.
Against this backdrop, what she calls, “the world’s dumbest problem,” Ahmad launched COPIA.
COPIA’s web and mobile platforms connect businesses with excess food to local shelters, after-school programs, and nonprofits in need. Businesses post their donations and COPIA instantly dispatches a driver to pick up and deliver the food to a nearby recipient agency, automating the process, and bypassing the inefficiencies that come with the traditional phone-based donation system.
The organization currently serves over 40 cities across the Bay Area – from Silicon Valley (including Mountain View, Santa Clara, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and San Jose) to San Francisco and the East Bay.
COPIA has already recovered over 800,000 pounds of food and is well on its way to feed-ing one million people – all with food that would have otherwise been wasted.
Her flourishing business model is proof that simple goals — like feeding people — can lead to huge, life-changing results.
Ahmad’s sheer resilience in combating hunger by tapping into existing sources of food showcases how much of an impact you can make with dedication, talent and innovation.
She found the strength to make change in her community and it's paying off.
She decided to use soccer as a vehicle to inspire young girls (ages 8-16) in underserved communities.
With a goal to help younger women understand that they too could be empowered in a male-dominated sport, Gonzo Soccer successfully ran its inaugural year in Austin, Texas.
Soccer is the one sport/ideology/culture that runs through the veins of citizens everywhere, and Gonzo Soccer believes that more girls playing soccer across the globe will soon lead to a more peaceful and productive world.
With the help of Toyota, Gonzalez was also able to launch two schools in the state of Mo-relos in Mexico — six schools total in Mexico.
Girls are able to receive elite training and academic assistance in locations where opportunities to play are hard to come by.
The program currently serves over 700 girls worldwide and continues to grow because demand for the motivational program is through the roof.