When Women on Wings was founded in 2007, co-founders Ellen Tacoma and Maria van der Heijden committed themselves to take families in rural India out of poverty through economic development. Their big goal was to co-create 1 million jobs for women in rural India. In the next years, they built a solid foundation to achieve this goal and pivoted Women on Wings’ strategy as and when needed to keep pace with the changing ecosystem.
After Ellen and Maria became non-executives in the Women on Wings board 7 years ago, Ronald van het Hof and Shilpa Mittal Singh took over the Women on Wings leadership to create the impact that Women on Wings was set to achieve. They further built the team and the network, and created new directions to accelerate job growth. Also, they led the organization through the very tough time during the pandemic.
Change in leadership Women on Wings
Ronald van het Hof (picture right) started his career at Women on Wings as a volunteer expert in 2009, sharing his experience in retail and general management with business partners in India. In 2013, he became managing director of Women on Wings India, and shifted to India to set up the Indian entity. Per January 1, 2024, Ronald will step back as joint managing director as he will reach the official retirement age in the Netherlands. After that date he continues to contribute to the mission of Women on Wings in a new position to further build the women entrepreneurship program that Women on Wings executes in close collaboration with various state government institutions in India.
Maria van der Heijden, chair of the board of Women on Wings: “On behalf of the Board I thank Ronald for building the Women on Wings organization and network together with Shilpa and the team to what it is today: a reputed and professional organization that is known for its work and impact, in both the Netherlands and India. As a board, we are very grateful that he will continue to contribute to our mission in a new role”.
Welcoming Ellen Tacoma in the executive board
Per September 1, 2023, Ellen Tacoma (picture left) will become part of the executive board of Women on Wings. She will resign as non-executive from the board. In the past seven years Ellen fulfilled various director positions in international organizations: COO and Director of the Accelerator at HiiL, working on user-friendly justice with social entrepreneurs across Africa and Ukraine. Also, she was International CEO of the Social Enterprise Academy in Scotland, delivering leadership programs for social enterprises across the world.
Ellen’s motivation to accept the role is her deep passion for women economic empowerment and the gender balance in general. According to research of the World Economic Forum, the situation has deteriorated 30 years since the pandemic. It will take another 130 years globally before men and women are at par.
The international experience Ellen gained in growing an organization is very relevant for the next phase of Women on Wings. On the one hand she returns to her roots and on the other hand she is entering a new organization, since many things have changed over the last 7 years, both internally and externally.
Shilpa Mittal Singh, joint managing director at Women on Wings: “Women on Wings just celebrated its 15th anniversary. In fifteen years, we have achieved a lot, but since gender equality has deteriorated since COVID-19, our work is more relevant than ever. We are extremely pleased that Ellen accepted our board’s invitation to succeed Ronald. It’s a pleasure to welcome her in the our team. Ellen not only comes with a huge passion for the goal as co-founder, but also brings new perspectives from working at other international social businesses. This will be crucial in the future in which we shall further develop our organization to scale job growth. I look forward to work alongside Ellen on the next phase of Women on Wings.”