Sophia Swire is an award-winning British social entrepreneur and passionate women’s advocate. She has founded two successful businesses in fashion and media as well as two charities and is now a sought-after start-up company adviser.
She left a City career working for Britain’s largest investment to set up schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, with a special focus on providing opportunity for women and girls through skills development and enterprise opportunity.
In 1990, Sophia created the wave of purpose-driven enterprise, being the first to introduce pashmina shawls to Western markets. She triggered a global fashion trend, generating jobs for tens of thousands of Nepalese, whilst measurably increasing Nepal’s GDP. Her brand was carried in leading stores around the world and donated a percentage of profits to Afghan refugee schools for a decade. The first non-profit she established and Chaired, Learning for Life, funded over 250 schools for 35,000 children in Pakistan and supported adult education initiatives for women during the Taliban era. Through her non-profit, Future Brilliance, Sophia is building access to markets for 1200 Afghan artisans, including 300 war widows, who hand carve lapis beads for the social enterprise brand and co-operative, Aayenda Jewelry.
With an extensive international network of government, philanthropy and business leaders, Sophia regularly participates in thought-leadership events, speaking on the power of investing in women and the importance of building purpose and gender equity into the heart of for-profit businesses.