Anj Handa is the founder of Inspiring Women Changemakers, a dynamic movement of women who join up to lead positive social change. Anj is an experienced lobbyist and former diplomat, she is the winner of the AFSA 2017 Positive Action Award and has 20 years experience in the field of Social Impact and Inclusion. Her global changemaking has featured in Refugee Tales, Comma Press, Eradicating FGM in the UK by Hillary Burrage and Generation Share by Benita Matofska & Sophie Sheinwald.
My first job ever was… In the family fashion retail from childhood, selling clothes to women and girls – and also, on occasion to crossdressers and transgender people. I’m certain that this combination of sales, helping people of all ages, shapes, sizes and backgrounds to look and feel better, and the diverse customer base made me the inclusive person that I am today.
My proudest accomplishment is…Winning a Positive Action Award from the Asian Fire Service Association for my outreach work. I’m not just proud of the accolade. It is special because one of my closest friends took the time to put me forward for it.
My boldest move to date was… Deciding to study an international business programme and live and study in Germany in my third year, even though I’d not even holidayed in Germany! I did speak the language though and it turned out to be the best year of my life.
I am most inspired by… People who are true to themselves and their values and beliefs. My role models aren’t necessarily rich or famous.
The motto I live by is… Your voice is your power. Let me help you be heard.
An interesting fact about me that most people wouldn’t know is… That I speak five languages – English, obviously. German, French, Punjabi and Hindi.
I want to teach women… That they have immense reserves of power within that they can draw on when the going gets tough, if only they slow down and allow themselves to tune in.
Working internationally has helped me… To develop a broad worldview and have a diverse circle of friends in life and in business. This promotes tolerance, the ability to look at things from different angles and the need to speak clearly, avoiding words or phrases that do not translate to other cultures..
I think the most important quality in a leader is… The admit/allow mistakes to happen and to find solutions together with others to avoid them happening in future.
“Your voice is your power. Let me help you be heard.”
My best advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is… Avoid perfection procrastination – just start. And if something isn’t working, change it slightly and try again. Sometimes it’s just about timing.
I balance my personal and professional responsibilities by… Working with my own waves of energy. I use a ‘Today’ list to prioritise my important tasks and make sure I rest, go for a walk, paint or do something else that brings me pleasure if I start to feel myself becoming tired or stressed.
My toughest challenge thus far has been… A few years of people close to me dying between 2012 and 2016. Dealing with grief and personal illness whilst leading a global changemaking campaign and setting up a new business was very difficult. But I got through it and here I am!
And it taught me… There’s such a thing as post-traumatic growth and it makes you very resilient.
I stay motivated by… Knowing my purpose. I love to help people (especially vulnerable women and girls) feel stronger from the inside so that they feel capable to make the best life choices for themselves.
Being a woman in international business is… Awesome!
If I could tell my twenty-year-old self one thing it would be… Enjoy this carefree year abroad lounging by the outdoor pool with friends because the next 20 years are going to be a rollercoaster.
In the next 5 years I hope to accomplish… Nearing financial freedom so that I can choose to become involved in global change making project son a pro bono basis over repaying my mortgage!
The future of Inspiring Women Changemakers excites me because… It’s ready to become global, connecting women all over the world to get support with their personal missions.