Lis Suarez-Visbal

Ashoka Fellow
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Lis Suarez-Visbal was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Through her organization, FEM International, Lis supports women working in highly feminized industries, such as the textile and fashion industry to lift themselves out of poverty by giving them the tools to be ecologically and socially-conscious entrepreneurs, while also turning them into peer supporters through global volunteer experiences, where they share their skills with and learn from women from the global south. Lis teaches women micro-entrepreneurs how to incorporate sustainable practices, social responsibility, recycling, and waste reduction into their businesses. These life-changing global experiences give immigrant women the confidence and practical experience to turnaround their lives, and create long-lasting impact.

Women bring their cultural knowledge and design skills to FEM International, which trains them to build their business plans, and make their products sustainable and marketable. Lis teaches the women how to network, build partnerships with the private, public and citizen sectors, while developing the necessary leadership skills to confidently begin and grow their businesses.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person


Aligned to our vision to contribute to building a more sustainable fashion industry, that is indeed a highly feminized one, in 2013, I launched ETHIK Eco-design hub, a project that first took shape in 2009 through FEM International. ETHIK’s mission is to promote ethical fashion and sustainable development practices within the textile industry and promote ethical fashion products amongst consumers. ETHIK is not only the first incubator of Ethical Fashion in Canada, but we are also the first organization to work with the Circular Economy framework in the Canadian Fashion industry. Meanwhile FEM International celebrated its 10 year anniversary and continues to bridge the realties of female social entrepreneurs from here and abroad, creating a movement of female changemakers, co-creating a more sustainable world.

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