Co-founder Spotlight: An Interview With Tessy de Nassau

Co-founder of Professors Without Borders, Tessy de Nassau is a Social Entrepreneur, Business Woman, Philanthropist, UNAids Ambassador, Public Speaker, Activist, and Mother. She founded the Global consultancy ‘Finding Butterflies’, is an ambassador for UNAIDS (Global Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls) and the patron to UNA-UK. In 2019 Tessy joined our Thailand Summer School team, and hosted our first Asia conference on Women, Development and Higher Education.

In 2018 PROWIBO launched its Women In Higher Education Initiative. How has this initiative developed and what has this meant for PROWIBO?

The launch of PROWIBO’s Women In Higher Education Initiative marked an important step for the organisation and all three of its founders. My co-founders and I are determined to prioritise gender parity at all levels in higher education, in the students, in academia and in university management. The Initiative allows us to champion women leaders and pioneers who inspire our team and our students and are able to cultivate their strengths, teach them new skills and give them a platform to work from. In 2019, 60 percent of our programmes were is all-women colleges, in Uganda and in India, and we have worked with local NGOs dedicated to empowering women in Sierra Leone and in India.

How would you describe your experience as guest lecturer and panellist in Thailand?

I had a beautiful experience in Thailand. As the co-founder representing PROWIBO, I signed several new MOUs that will enable PROWIBO to expand our programs to institutions in Laos and Vietnam. This year’s program in Thailand was also unique because of the conference. Women, Development and Higher Education was a major venture for PROWIBO in Asia and it was exciting that it was hosted in Thailand. I believe that the success of the conference is due to the assistance of our partners at Srinakharinwirot UniversitySWU has demonstrated a strong commitment to the SDGs, which translated into high levels of enthusiasm for the conference. My experience as a guest lecturer was insightful. I learned a lot about gender diversity in Thailand. 

While participating in the conference, I gained important insights about the wants and needs of both women and men in higher education. The audience of the conference included many young men who were very engaged. Their contributions were vibrant, insightful and thought-provoking. Women, Development and Higher Education demonstrated how our conferences can add to the conversation of youth empowermentand it was a privilege to attend such an energizing event. Most importantly, I was proud that PROWIBO and our partners could bring together this audience, which included individuals from several political parties in Thailand who put their differences aside and came together to discuss this topic of women In higher education.

What was the biggest hurdle you and the Prowibo team had to overcome while organising a conference out of the UK for the first time?

There were many hurdles that we had to overcome while hosting a conference abroad. From the smallest things such as managing the time difference to communicate with our partners at SWU to facilitating a whole conference with the help of our amazing volunteers, who donated their free time. I would like to especially thank Dr Sipim Sornbalang, our facilitator at SWU, who volunteered her time to help organise this conference. The PROWIBO team and I acknowledge and appreciate all of our collaborators As PROWIBO is a small NGO it was inspiring to see how everyone came together to contribute what they can from their time to food and drinks to make this event possible.I am already looking forward to the venture with SWU!

What was your favourite fundraising activity for PROWIBO this year? 

I was fortunate to participate in many fundraising activities this year. In June I participated in a 300-kilometre bicycle race in Vätternrundans, Sweden, where I raised nearly £4,000 for PROWIBO. In May Regents Racing hosted a Formula One Garden Party to benefit several organisations including PROWIBO. The event was covered by Sky TV and Vicky Lee, our UK advocate, donated much of the food and drinks. It was great to see our advocates and team, who attended and volunteered their free time, demonstrate such a commitment to PROWIBO. My co-founder Majeks also raised funds in his church with a fundraiser put together by the choir. Each and every fundraising effort needs an equal amount of recognition as all of them helped our small NGO grow.

We are very grateful for all those who donate and help PROWIBO deliver its programs each year. Fundraising is very challenging especially in the current climate, where NGOs and development agencies continue to experience budget cuts. The PROWIBO team are all volunteers and we rely on the generosity of individuals, institutions and partners who believe, breathe and support what we do and enable, our teachers and students to grow and change the world.

CarolineMajeks and I along with the whole PROWIBO team are looking forward to 2020. We are excited to plan innovative ways to fundraise. I cannot express how proud I am with the work we have done so far!

Learn more about Tessy and her work with PROWIBO.

Learn more about PROWIBO’s Women In Higher Education Initiative


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