Global Fund for Widows

The Global Fund for Widows (GFW) is a US-based nonprofit founded by former Wall Street banker Heather Ibrahim dedicated to empowering widows and female heads of households to overcome poverty through skills-based training, job creation, and micro-finance. The goal is to help widows achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency. GFW supports widows in Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Cameroon, and Nigeria by forming strategic partnerships with local NGOs to develop unique solutions for empowering widows that are culturally and socially appropriate, and sustainable. In 2022 GFW successfully advocated for the passing of a United Nations General Assembly resolution regarding widowhood and human rights.

Related sustainable development goals

  • No Poverty
  • Zero Hunger
  • Good Health and Well-Being
  • Quality Education
  • Gender Equality
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Reduced Inequalities
  • Climate Action
  • Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • Partnerships for the Goals


26,238 beneficiaries in nine countries.

In Kenya, WISALA members saw a 2027% increase in their monthly income.

On March 15, 2022, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the landmark resolution AR/76/252 “Addressing the Situation of Widows.” GFW was honoured for the role it played in this adoption.


Focus areas

Focus sectors

  • Development
    • Economic development
      • Financial services
        • Development finance
          • Sustainable finance
          • Microfinance
        • Credit unions
      • Employment
        • Job training
      • Community improvement
  • Human rights
    • Female empowerment
  • Public affairs
    • Public policy

Focus populations

  • Low-income people
  • Widows
  • Women and girls
  • Working poor

Focus geographies

  • Africa
    • Kenya
    • Nigeria
    • Malawi
    • Cameroon
    • Tanzania
  • Americas
    • Bolivia
    • Dominican Republic
  • North Africa
    • Egypt
  • South Asia
    • India



  • Alfanar
  • Dreamstart Labs
  • TrustLaw
  • Whole Planet Foundation


  • The Amal Project

    This is an economic empowerment programme providing low-cost loans to vulnerable widows and female breadwinners across Egypt. Vocational and financial literacy training, affordable micro-loans and widows savings and loan associations help female breadwinners start businesses and support their families. They offer a pathway to financial independence for vulnerable widows, who are often held hostage to gender and culture norms, which can prevent them from accessing finance and trap them in poverty. It is a collaboration with venture philanthropy organisation Alfanar and the Global Fund for Widows.


  • WISALA: Widows’ Savings and Loan Association

    This is an innovative micro-bank model created to serve widows, allowing previously unbanked women access to savings and loans to be able start and grow businesses.


Key staff

  • Awny Mikhaeel, Egypt Country Director
  • Elena Saenz Feehan, director of programmes and advocacy
  • Mesha Singolyo, Tanzania country director
  • Nagesh Borse, executive director

Board members

  • Angela Stulley
  • Elena Yoon
  • Ferhang Mehregani
  • Heather Ibrahim-Leathers
  • Jennifer Wu
  • Nancy Youssef
  • Olena Malynska
  • Pierre Debbas
  • Sandy Debbas

Contact details



Global Fund for Widows Annual Report 2022

Giving hope: how the Amal Project is changing the lives of widows in MENA. Read more