The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded University Research Co., LLC (URC) the first ever Excellence in Mentorship Award during the agency's Sixth Annual Small Business Conference on Thursday, May 16th, in Washington, D.C. URC President Barbara N. Turner, accepted the award, which recognized the significant developmental assistance the company provides to its small business protégé, Women Influencing Health Education and Rule of Law, LLC (WI-HER). The conference provides a venue for small businesses to convene, discuss success stories, network with other small businesses, and receive guidance on business and managerial practices.
Ms. Turner said: "While URC takes our corporate social responsibility seriously, we took on this mentor role primarily because it is good business. WI-HER was able to give us a laser focus on taking our gender strategies to a new level of empowerment and innovation."
WI-HER, LLC, a woman-owned small business established in 2011, aims to identify and implement creative solutions to challenges in health, education, and rule of law, to help communities achieve sustained development, and to improve the health outcomes and lives of women, men, boys, and girls. Dr. Taroub Faramand, President and Founder of WI-HER, began working with URC in April 2011. After doing numerous assignments addressing gender integration, WI-HER, LLC entered into a Mentor-Protégé relationship with URC in January 2012.
Dr. Faramand said: "URC has had a huge impact on my work. I am very grateful to URC staff for their professional, highly ethical and collegial treatment. I feel like everyone at URC including technical staff, finance, contracts, communications, human resources, administration and management, is watching out for us and wants us to succeed. My partnership with URC allowed me to realize my dream."
Currently, WI-HER, LLC partners with URC on the global USAID-funded project, Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) to ensure the project addressed the different needs of men, women, boys, and girls to promote the greatest access, use, and quality of care. WI-HER is responsible for integrating gender across the project's countries and service areas. They provide gender analysis and ways to integrate gender in program planning, conduct trainings for health and quality improvement professionals, and develop adaptable community-level training tools. WI-HER developed an innovative training module on how to address gender-based violence in health care improvement activities. They also document and share case studies on how to integrate gender. For example, WI-HER, LLC helped ASSIST develop a gender integration strategy for their program in Uganda.
Through the USAID Mentor-Protégé Program, URC assists WI-HER in developing financial management processes, strategic planning, organizational management structures and human resource policies. URC provides logistical support for WI-HER staff travel, workspaces at URC as necessary, and guidance on USAID rules and regulations.