Meet a woman scientist helping the environment

Three people planting in garden (USAID)
Sasha Kramer (right) co-founded an organization in Haiti that focuses on "ecological sanitation." (USAID)

Women entrepreneurs who are changing lives and fostering economic growth will take center stage at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, India.

Women like Sasha Kramer.

Kramer co-founded the group Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) in Haiti in 2006, the same year she received her doctorate in ecology from California’s Stanford University. SOIL focuses on ecological sanitation, a process that returns nutrients from human waste to the soil rather than polluting freshwater resources.

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which will be held November 28-30, will draw 1,500 budding entrepreneurs, angel investors, and business and government leaders. Kramer recently spoke about starting a business.

Q: What struggles have you faced as a female entrepreneur?

A: Women often face skepticism and disbelief in the workplace, and particularly in traditionally male fields like science and technology. I’ve faced that skepticism by respectfully questioning and standing up whenever I felt my voice and presence were being silenced.

Q: What advice would you give to girls who dream of starting businesses?

A: Listen and learn from others, be respectful and humble, but don’t take no for an answer, and never be afraid to take up space or ask people for what you need, whether that’s time, support, expertise  —  anything.

Q: What’s been the most gratifying part of this work for you personally?

A: It has been an inspiration to see this work catching on around the world. Over 10 years ago when SOIL was founded, we were pretty unusual. Now we are part of a formal alliance of practitioners working on similar sanitation solutions around the world, and I’m overwhelmed by the gathering momentum behind this idea that sanitation can be so much more than just a toilet.

A longer version of this story appeared on the U.S. Agency for International Development website as part of a series leading up to Global Entrepreneurship Summit for