Henriette Kolb: Puts aside ‘preconceived ideas’

By Eliza Villarino 17 October 2011

Henriette Kolb, CEO at the Cherie Blair Foundation. Photo by: dg-corporate.co.uk

Henriette Kolb has worked with many a leader, but the most prominent ones may be the Blairs. Kolb serves as CEO of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women; she advised former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair in his role as representative of the influential Quartet on the Middle East.

Kolb is one of today’s most influential development leaders under 40 in London. She and her peers have inspired change that transcends borders.

Devex is recognizing 40 of these young London-based trailblazers in international development. They are social entrepreneurs, government leaders, development consultants, business innovators, advocates, development researchers, nonprofit executives, philanthropists and investors.

We asked Kolb about her leadership and vision for development cooperation in the years to come. Here’s what she said:

What steps have you taken to reduce administrative costs and boost fundraising at the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women?

We work to maintain the right balance between quality support to our programmes and maximum direct charitable expenditure. We hired a dedicated fundraising and partnerships manager this year who has really helped us work more strategically on building successful funding partnerships.

You’ve called for bold partnerships with the private sector to empower women entrepreneurs and leaders. Can you give an example for the types of partnerships you’d like to see more in international development?

Our work is only successful if we can build long-term solutions together with partners. In many developing and emerging markets, the private sector is best placed to generate economic opportunities for women, but it cannot do this alone. The government needs to be involved in producing a reliable regulatory and legal environment in which women are protected. It is important for us to fit in with national development plans and to ensure that what we are doing is supportive of local priorities and efforts.

What has your engagement in the Middle East peace process taught you about leadership?

My work with the U.N. in the occupied Palestinian territory taught me to reach out and work with parties who have very different views. I often had to put aside preconceived ideas in order to increase space for interaction in a place which is highly segregated.

Read more about the Devex 40 Under 40 International Development Leaders in London.

About the author

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Eliza Villarino

Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.


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