When Joanie Fredericks founded Ladies Own Transport in South Africa, her mission was easy: serve and shield women.

South Africa has one of many highest rates of violence against girls and women, and that violence frequently occurs on public transit. In 2018, Fredericks began Ladies Own Transport to provide driving lessons to ladies so that they wouldn’t have to depend on public transit. Now, Fredericks additionally provides a ride-sharing service that provides rides for women by ladies.

That’s when Virginia Tech’s Jessica Agnew obtained involved.

“As a specialist in small and medium-sized enterprises, and a personal supporter of women-led businesses, I was immediately interested in Ladies Own Transport,” stated Agnew, assistant director of research, operations, and program management at the Center for International Research, Education, and Development. “Given the vary of special skills at Virginia Tech, our motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), and our public engagement mission as a world land-grant university, I felt assured that I might discover groups on campus interested in helping this firm to develop and harness its already valuable strengths.”

One of these groups was led by Dirk Buengel, assistant professor of follow within the Pamplin College of Business. He integrated Ladies Own Transport into his undergraduate management consulting course, and a gaggle of 4 female students began working with Fredericks to develop a business plan and progress strategy for her firm.

“I was initially drawn to the Ladies Own Transport challenge because it was a female-owned and operated firm with a robust mission,” said Marley Blycher, one of many college students collaborating on the project. “I am keen about women’s rights and wanted to work with Joanie in her mission to create social change for the ladies of South Africa. Our group learned invaluable lessons about conducting business internationally and what challenges it could deliver. We hope the work we’ve accomplished with this firm and the instruments we have supplied assist it to flourish so that it may expand as a resource for all of the girls of South Africa to have access to.” 

Blycher was joined by fellow classmates Lauren Miller, Maddie O’Reilly, and Julianne Anderson to develop the business plan.

Buengel stated the management consulting program is designed to develop the following technology of nice enterprise leaders and administration consultants. Fredericks’s company offered the right setup.

“We attempt to provide hands-on abilities and experiential learning alternatives that college students can apply right after commencement,” he mentioned. “Ladies Own Transport helped students develop a global business perspective and supplied a real-world example of Pamplin’s approach to enhancing the human situation. It showcases the significance of training professional and ethical business leaders.”

Agnew also linked Collegiate Women in Business (CWIB), knowledgeable growth and social engagement group at Pamplin, to Ladies Own Transport. With women’s empowerment a key focus of the group, CWIB led two fundraiser nights for Fredericks’s company and invited her to attend a monthly member assembly.

“When we heard Joanie’s story about how girls in her neighborhood aren’t secure taking other ride-sharing providers, and this influenced Joanie’s entrepreneurship dream to create a enterprise encompassing feminine empowerment, we knew the partnership between Ladies Own Transport and CWIB can be beneficial for both of us,” said Caroline Macri, co-chief government officer of CWIB.

In 2020, greater than 53,000 sexual assaults were reported in South Africa, although given obstacles in reporting, the number is most probably a lot higher. Fredericks aims not solely to protect women from such experiences, but additionally to supply them opportunities for stable earnings that would provide a pathway ahead.

On the primary day of Fredericks’ driving school, 500 girls signed up. In South Africa, a driver’s license can open the door to employment. With such high demand, Fredericks is main a marketing campaign to provide scholarships for girls to attend for free. Ladies Own Transport can also be jump-starting a mechanics workshop for ladies in South Africa to discover ways to resolve mechanical automotive issues. 

“The Virginia Tech collaboration has proved to me that it does not matter where girls are positioned bodily to assist and empower one another,” Fredericks stated. “This collaboration resides proof that it’s sufficient for women to consider in one another. The fact that Virginia Tech believed so firmly in me gave me the strength and resolve to be extra, higher, bigger, and to try to achieve the very best for the empowerment and safety of ladies.” 

The Center for International Research, Education, and Development, a part of Outreach and International Affairs, continues to collaborate with Fredericks to develop Ladies Own Transport as well as help catalyze the strengths of different small and women-owned enterprises all over the world. Anyone excited about collaborating in this collaboration can e-mail Agnew. 

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