I’ve always been inspired by second acts in life. To me, a shift in our path represents strength, perseverance, and hope. Like so many other women in the United States, the ‘Me Too’ movement compelled me to examine my own professional climb in business. While I never experienced sexual harassment or assault in the workplace, I did experience feeling undermined, undervalued, sexually uncomfortable, and simply minimized in the workplace because of my gender. I had been bullied by male peers, faced with overhearing crude sentiments about women, and I had even been passed up for career advancement due to my gender.

During it all, and despite it all, I was lucky enough to have travelled far and wide. Through these travels I learned how common it is for women in developing countries to be marginalized in ways far more extreme than even the worst narratives exposed by the ‘Me Too’ Movement. I came to quickly understand that the level of marginalization in almost every instance is more of a cultural norm than it is an exception. In most cases, women not only lack the power to change the status quo, but they lack the understanding of the importance of being equal citizens in their own communities.

Through these experiences, the seed of Rowan started to take shape by focusing on one simple truth:

The global economy is not working for women.

Current business models concentrate wealth at the top of the economy – causing extreme inequalities that often leave the poorest women and girls behind. Our current model constrains women’s economic empowerment because it does not create decent work opportunities. It does not require fair wages, nor does it recognize or address issues of unpaid work. Our current model does not leave room for opportunities, particularly for the poorest and most marginalized female workforce who need it the most.

Gender inequality in the economy costs women in developing countries $9 trillion a year.

75% of women in developing regions are in the “informal economy,” meaning their employment isn’t monitored by any form of government. The World Economic Forum estimates

it will take 257 years for the gender wage gap to close, and the even more shocking reality is that gap has increased almost 10% in two years.

The other truth that shaped Rowan’s mission is the abundance of research that proves supporting women and getting more income generating opportunities into the hands of women benefits entire communities. Some studies go as far to say that

empowering women is the key to eradicating global poverty. Each of these studies reveal that when women control more household income, more money is spent on child education, clean water, healthcare, energy and sanitation.

As a member of the 1% female tribe in the Western world, I believe it’s my responsibility to leverage not only my education, professional experience, but also the hard work, learnings, perseverance and strength of men and women who paved the way for me to achieve success in my own country and serve our female counterparts in developing nations.

As our global economy becomes more interconnected, we not only have the responsibility to work together, but also to respect cultures, traditions and elements that make our world so unique. My goal is for Rowan to be one pathway for realizing this.

--Liz Prior, Founder


Investing in girls and women creates a ripple effect that yields multiple benefits for women, families, communities and countries. Increasing women’s household income…

○ improves their access to school and healthcare
○ gives women greater control over their reproductive health
○ improves women’s ability to make environmentally friendly choices
○ improves their status within families and communities


One of the greatest obstacles to breaking free from the cycle of poverty is a person’s dependence on others to bring, create, or sustain their own well-being. Continual and predictable income does more than help impoverished earn enough to cover basic human needs. It enhances emotional well-being, social connections, personal aspirations and respect in the community. No charitable gift or government redistribution of funds can make a lasting difference in life.


In nearly every developing society, artistry is the 2nd largest driver of the economy behind agriculture. Beading, weaving, basket making and crafts such as embroidering are taught to girls as young as 6 years old. In most of these regions, education for girls is not an option, so artistry is often the only means to earn a sustainable wage.