WIE Network is a next generation media company that aims to inspire social change through the creation of engaging and inspirational filmed content, large scale forums and innovative social media programs. The company’s properties include the annual women’s conference, The WIE Symposium; WIE Interact, an online social network for women, and a new online reputation service to be announced. Other projects include a feature film about legendary African heroine Yaa Asantewaa; and a documentary that explores the role of forgiveness in conflict resolution around the world.
WIE Network’s principals are television host and political commentator June Sarpong, and branding and entertainment marketing expert, Dee Poku. According to Sarpong and Poku, the WIE Symposium was created as way of uniting women from different backgrounds. The event engages women from the world’s wealthiest nations in the quest to give a voice to those less fortunate than themselves: "As New York based British women of Ghanaian heritage, we consider ourselves to be citizens of world. And as such our mandate is to unite and empower women everywhere. We all share common goals of wanting to be happy and successful, to have strong families and dynamic careers. And that’s what the WIE Symposium is about, setting aside our differences and uniting behind our common aspirations."
Mellena Haile is an analyst in the Office of the President for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Her responsibilities include advancing the Foundation’s entrepreneurial initiatives and strategy focusing on Africa and strengthening the development of the Expeditionary Economics field of research.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Haile was in the Darden Batten Business Incubator to develop a mobile payments platform concept to assist underserved individuals in the United States in gaining access to the mainstream financial system. Haile’s business case currently is taught at the Darden Graduate School of Business. While in the Incubator, Haile also worked as an associate at New Vantage Group, an active angel investors group, in Vienna, Va. where she managed the screening process of early stage companies in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Previously, Haile practiced architecture and engineering at Burt Hill in Washington, DC, where she managed and worked on both commercial and federal building projects.
Haile earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.
Wangari Maathai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, is the founder of the Green Belt Movement in her home country of Kenya, an environmental group that has restored indigenous forests and assisted rural women by paying them to plant trees in their communities.
Since 1977, it has planted more than 30 million trees in Kenya and has been replicated in dozens of other African countries. Having helped transform Kenya from a vicious dictatorship to a fledgling progressive democracy, Maathai is currently Kenya's Deputy Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources and a member of Parliament.
Sinothle Mabutha is a 21-year-old South African honor student.
Jacqueline Novogratz is founder and CEO of Acumen Fund. Prior to starting Acumen, she worked at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she created and directed the Philanthropy Workshop and the Next Generation Leadership program.
Novogratz has also worked at the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation and has served as a consultant to UNICEF and the World Bank in various African countries. She helped found a micro-finance institution for women in Rwanda and began her career in international banking with Chase Manhattan Bank.
Novogratz holds an MBA from Stanford and a BA from the University of Virginia.
Tiffany Persons is Founder and Director of Shine On Sierra Leone.