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What is FREE​

Existing funds related to COVID-19 response for girls and women are primarily focused on short term, critical needs. FREE IS DIFFERENT.

The FREE (Financial Resilience and Economic Empowerment) Fund aims to ensure long-term investment in the economic empowerment of adolescent girls and young women.


FREE is envisioned as a pooled funding mechanism designed to support the needs of adolescent girls and young women. With foundational investment from Standard Chartered, FREE will accelerate progress towards SDG 5 and SDG 8 by increasing the economic opportunities available to girls and women.


This fund will identify promising initiatives, provide resources to expand and scale existing work, and connect innovators to be able to share solutions.



FREE will support proposals that advance adolescent girls’ and young women’s economic resilience and align with the vision and mission of the Fund. 


Accelerate progress towards SDG 5 and SDG 8 by increasing the economic opportunities available to adolescent girls and young women.


Central to adolescent girls and young women’s economic resilience will be the advancement of economic justice, sexual and reproductive health and rights, women’s safety and security.


Invest in sustainable solutions that will enhance the economic resilience and promote the rights of adolescent girls and young women - and their communities.

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FREE is making decisions using participatory grantmaking models where an Advisory Committee comprised of seven women leaders and regional panels of young women have the power over funding decisions. By creating a more equitable granting model, the Fund will be more likely to identify and choose the most effective programmes and support them in achieving maximum impact.


Between our Advisory Committee, who is making key decisions about eligibility criteria and grantmaking, and these regional panels, the applications will go through an anonymous screening process to ensure fairness in the selection process.


The Advisory Committee is comprised of women in the target regions who are making key decisions about the FREE Fund to ensure a fair process. The committee members were selected based on their expertise in grantmaking, gender justice, feminist principles, inclusion and economic empowerment. The Advisory Committee has created and committed to a Conflict of Interest statement that will guide their decision-making process within their FREE Fund responsibilities.

Aneth Gerana (Tanzania)

Aneth is a disability rights advocate and innovator. She founded FUWAVITA, a deaf women's organisation that supports girls and women with disabilities through Entrepreneurship and Leadership programmes. She is also an award winning entrepreneur whose work is accelerating progress towards SDG 8 for persons with disabilities and the informal sector.

Pat Mbugua

Pat is the Head, Legal, Corporate Commercial and Institutional Banking, East Africa at Standard Chartered Kenya Limited. She is passionate about leadership and collaboration, enabling and partnering with business stakeholders, offering differentiated customer service and community impact. Pat is representing Standard Chartered at the global Institute of International Finance Future Leaders Class of 2021. She is a volunteer mentor with Project Girls for Girls - Kenya Chapter, and with the Law Society of Kenya’s In-House Counsel Committee.

Anna Marie Abordo Dela Torre
(The Philippines)

Anna is a Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs, Brand and Marketing at Standard Chartered. Anna supports the Bank’s commitment to promote sustainable economic growth through Futuremakers by Standard Chartered, the Bank’s global initiative to tackle inequality and promote greater economic inclusion for disadvantaged young people in communities. Anna is an Employee Volunteering Champion.

Ruth Kimani

Ruth is a feminist, and is passionate about sexual reproductive health and rights, gender and social inclusion of marginalised groups. As an experienced grant administrator with Voice, she manages a  portfolio of over  120  grants in  Kenya,  Uganda,  Tanzania,  Nigeria, Mali  and  Niger.  Her work requires her to engage and partner with government, civil society, philanthropic, academic, and private sector organisations across Africa.

Irene Mutumba (uganda)

Irene is a social and business entrepreneur whose focus is challenging the traditional education system to encourage young people to think and act like entrepreneurs. She leads PEDN, an organisation focused on financial and entrepreneurial education, particularly for marginalised girls. She is an Ashoka Fellow and is recognised for her advocacy work in education reform, skilling and empowerment of young people and catalysing change.

Sigma Ainul

Sigma is a social scientist and researcher at the Population Council, with expertise on adolescents and youth, sexual and reproductive health and rights, prevention of gender-based violence, child marriage, education and livelihoods opportunities for girls and women. She has experience working in diverse settings such as rural, urban slum, climate vulnerable areas, and Rohingya refugee camps-in Bangladesh. She has authored several research pieces on the effect of and best modalities to support girls and women in time of COVID-19. 

Oge Nnaife

Oge is an SME (small or medium enterprise) enabler and business capacity builder, mentoring leading start-ups and young entrepreneurs across different sectors and locations in Nigeria. She is passionate about driving strategies that enable aspiring entrepreneurs to develop the right foundations to build sustainable businesses and has supported over 1500 start-ups in the last 3 years. She currently leads the Start-ups and Youth Enterprise Strategy at FATE Foundation with a lot of focus on women led businesses to support them and to create the much needed balance for equality and equity.

Youth Peer Panel

The Youth Peer Panellists are comprised of young women between the ages of 18-30 from the FREE Fund target countries who have lived experience facing and working on the FREE grant parameters. They will assist in scoring and choosing the final grantees, as well as providing local context for the young women that the FREE aims to support.

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abigail amon 
(The Philippines)

Abigail Amon (she/her) is currently the Communications Manager of Youth Voices Count (YVC), a regional network for LGBTIQ youth in Asia and the Pacific. Alongside core work, Abigail has worked as project lead for the Rainbow Relief Response and In Good Shape, two YVC projects that focus on providing small grants to grassroots organizationsin the Philippines. Prior to this, she has been in the HIV and AIDS advocacy since her undergraduate years, co-founding Team Dugong Bughaw, a youth organization on HIV awareness based in Iloilo. She finds meaningful work in brainstorming messages and creatingprograms anddigital content for development especially in gender and HIV.

(The Philippines)

Naro (they/them) provides psychosocial support and wellbeing education to social justice defenders, survivors of gender-based violence, and communities made vulnerable in the Philippines. They are part of KERI: Caring for Activists, Project Pagsibol, and is currently involved in CIVICUS' campaign of reimagining grassroots organizing and resourcing. A graduate student of Clinical Psychology and psychotherapist-in-training at the University of the Philippines, their focus is on activists' mental health, transgender health, and trauma.

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Susan Sabano

I am Susan Sabano, a self advocate and a female Ugandan, living with a Disability Known as Cerebral Palsy. I currently work with Uganda National Association Of Cerebral Palsy as a Project Assistant, Economic Empowerment, a Board member, Show Abilities Uganda representing Persons with cerebral Palsy, a youth Action Team member and a Commonwealth children and youth Disability Network Executive Committee Member.I am passionate in life of serving communities beyond self for their better wellbeing. This has been inspiration and a cause to work in every aspect of life to make a significant change in life of the needy especially marginalized group including women and girls.

Joyce Chinenyenwa Nwanochi

Joyce is a Social Change advocate whose peculiar passion for the rights of Women and Girls has led to her advocacy within and outside her region.Her interests mostly involveensuring the improved access to SRHR services by Women and Girls.She has served on various panels aimed at improving the general welfare of Women and Girls in Rivers State, Nigeria, as well as undergone various trainings to increase her knowledge and skills for her advocacy journey. Joyce is a Pharmacist-in-training, currently in her final year of study and has recently ventured into Data science, a field she hopes to use to solve the many issues plaguing the health and non-profit sectorsin her community.She isalsoa writer who uses her Platform to increase awareness on SRHR issues, and is currently cascading a training to a number of Girls and Women in her community.

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Rajina Shrestha

Rajina works in Resource Development at CREA, one of the very few international women's rights organizations based in the global South. She works to mobilize feminist funding for CREA's rights-based efforts to build feminist leadership, strengthen movements, challenge unjust power structures, expand sexual and reproductive freedoms and advance human rights. She co-founded and leads the resource mobilization and leadership training at Women Leaders in Technology (WLiT), an organization that works with young women in tech in Nepal. She currently chairs the board of Women LEAD Nepal, an organization for young Nepali women's leadership development, because she believes that feminist leadership that is inclusive and intersectional will be the face of the next generation of institutional change.

thubelihle Nkiwane

Thubelihle Nkiwane is a 19 year old youth activist for gender equality from Zimbabwe. Her passion for activism and humanitarian work began as she was elected Junior Mayoress of her city, Bulawayo in 2019/2020, and is driven to go further in this regard

Mariah Bassey Esin

My name is Mariah Esin. I am a Nigerian, living in Nigeria. I have a Bachelor's degree in political science and public administration. I engage myself in several mentorship programs where I help young people especially women to improve themselves specifically in the area of personal development. I am a volunteer with some Non-governmental organization one of which is the Edet Amana Foundation. I am currently studying to get a degree in law, specifically human rights. This would help me more in my desire to help young people. On a lighter note, I enjoy listening to music and playing sports.

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salah emmanual

My name is Salah Emmanuel, a holder of diploma in community development am working with Fadhili teens Tanzania on girls programing, by providing the knowledge of self-esteem and income-generating activities to girls and young women. Through this knowledge, many girls especially in rural areas have achieved to establish individual business activities as the results most of them have improved financially. My goal is to see many girls and young women increase their income and become economically independent

Merina Chakma

My name is Merina Chakma. I am an activist. I am from an indigenous tribe, from Chittagong Hill District.I always try to be a philanthropist for the betterment of my society and community. Gender justice, indigenous rights, SDGs, tax justice, SRHR, Young feminist leadership, LGBTQ rights. Volunteered in these areas with Action Aid. Master’s Degree. Implemented trainings.

Sharon Kasacha

I am Sharon Kasacha a 22 years old Ugandan female and a girl leader in Rhythm of life organization. I am a youth representative in Girls Not Brides Uganda a global partnership in ending Child Marriage and so passionate about impacting lives of Youths in my community.


 Want to join the partnership to support FREE Fund?

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