The Pangea Network: Making a difference around the world, including The Woodlands
THE WOODLANDS, Texas - In 2005, The Pangea Network, a non-profit organization based in The Woodlands, was founded to empower women and youth all across the globe. Now, nine years later, Pangea has positively affected the lives of others in Africa, the Middle East, and The United States. The organization may be small, but The Pangea Network is making a huge difference by impacting women and youth all over the world, including young women right here in the Houston area.
Nicole Minor, the founder of The Pangea Network, as well as her team, believe that lives can be changed through empowerment in a sustainable and effective way. The mission is to show others that they have the ability to live up to their fullest potential and be contributing members of society. Not only are women all around the world learning skills and educational training to be successful, but young women in The Woodlands community as well.
There are three main programs that encompass The Pangea Network: Women’s Cooperatives, Student Sponsorships, and the Young Women’s Leadership Challenge (YWLC).
The Women’s Cooperatives Program works with groups of women in Kenya who have come together on their own who strive to be successful individuals. The Pangea Network has full time staff in Kenya to help with these cooperatives, but Minor and a handful of her staff in the U.S. go twice a year as well. The program takes place over a period of three years. For the first six months, the women are educated on numerous topics including basic rights as a citizen and a woman, bookkeeping, finance, health and nutrition, reproductive health, and much more.
“A lot of them don’t know they have the basic right to own property,” said Minor.
In the past, the organization has even had volunteers from The Woodlands that travel to Kenya to teach different skills, including first aid training.
After their six-month training, the women focus on business development for the next two and a half years through a partnership with The Pangea Network. The women receive loans in cycles that are always monitored by the organization. They can then decide to start a business as a group, or individually. Either way, Pangea is there every step of the way. The hope is that as time progresses, the women are able to operate their businesses efficiently, while also building their own personal savings.
One of the women at the beginning had 10 chairs she would rent out for events, and now she has over 100,” said Beth Turner, Program and Development Leader of The Pangea Network. “Everyone comes to her in the village to rent chairs.”
Overtime, the women in the cooperatives develop important skills to have a successful business, whether it selling tomatoes, renting chairs or raising goats.
“They see themselves differently and feel valuable. It is life changing for them,” said Minor.
The organization has now worked with 15 women’s cooperatives, a number that is still continuing to increase. While a successful program, it did not take long for a second program to form: student sponsorships.
When one of the women Minor and her team had worked with in Kenya passed away, leaving eight children behind, The Pangea Network wanted to help. They began looking for people back in the U.S. who were interested in sponsoring a child so that they could attend boarding school. Ever since, the program has continued to allow more children to receive an education. Some sponsors are even supporting children through college. Each child sponsors receives letters and report cards, allowing them to see the child’s progress.
“We have had over 25 kids in the program,” said Minor.
These children that didn’t have the opportunity to attend school before, can now receive an education.
Although The Pangea Network does a lot of work in Africa and the Middle East, they saw a need to help young women in The Woodlands and surrounding Houston area as well. About three years ago, the Young Women’s Leadership Challenge (YWLC) was formed to empower local young female leaders.
This summer, YWLC will be holding two 5-day camps for rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. The topics discussed at the camp include global issues, self-esteem and body image, financial literacy, women in leadership, and global citizenship. The camp in The Woodlands is held at Lone Star College-Montgomery and is the first of its kind in the area. At the YWLC, the campers get to listen to prominent speakers from all over the U.S. that, in the past, have included a global fashion designer, professors from top universities, award-winning journalists, financial planners and many more.
“So many girls in our area want to help and they want to give back, they just don’t know what to do or how to do it,” said Turner. “They are different people before Pangea and after Pangea. They’re alive and not afraid to speak up, they have a voice.”
Since 2005, The Pangea Network has empowered youth and women all over the world, and they continue to travel across the globe to affect others, as well as those right here in The Woodlands.
“We don’t exist for us, we exist for them,” said Minor. “Whether it is the women in Kenya or the girls here, that is why we are here. That is why we work.”
For more information on The Pangea Network, visit the website link provided below. There is also additional information regarding the Young Women’s Leadership Challenge, how to donate, and how to sponsor a child.