Diana Mao, founder of Nomi Network, is changing the lives of abused women across the world.
By Ursula Lauriston
Meet Diana Mao: a radical, world-changing 28-year-old. By day she helps businesses and government agencies run more efficiently. By night she helps save the lives of victims caught in the all-consuming Goliath that is modern day slavery. In 2009, Diana started Nomi Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking by teaching victims to financially support themselves, and help lift them out of poverty and slavery. By giving women small micro-loans that help them buy materials, create, and sell recyclable bags with the tag line “Buy Her Bag Not Her Body,” Nomi Network is helping women across the world change their lives.
Twenty Something: What inspired you to start Nomi Network?
Diana Mao: I started Nomi Network in 2009 after my experiences in Cambodia. I got a fellowship with a micro-finance institution and spent time with the people there. I had an experience where a father offered my colleague and I his child. He didn’t want to give her up but his circumstances made it so he couldn’t provide for his children. That first encounter really hit me and made me want to push this issue further.
TS: What are your goals for Nomi Network?
DM: We hope to create about 100,000 jobs for women who have survived sex trafficking by 2025. We want to keep expanding so we’ll always be able to help a victim in need.
TS: Those are big goals. What gives you hope these things can be accomplished?
DM: The organizations we’ve worked with have helped employ dozens of women; they’ve helped create demand for our products, and are changing the lives of women subjected to sex trafficking. Professionals of all backgrounds have donated their time and are committed to seeing this problem eradicated. With so many committed people behind us, I know we won’t let these women down.
TS: What does a world-saving, Twenty Something like you do for fun?
DM: I’m really busy so when I have time to myself I love to bike, run, have a drink, and dance. I also love to travel!
TS: What would you say to someone who wants to change something but thinks they’re too young to do it?
DM: Commitment and passion prevail over age. You need people to back you and you must partner with people with skills you lack. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and share your vision. And you need mentors! Go out and find advisers who can help nurture your vision.
TS: How can other Twenty Something’s get involved?
DM: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org . We need people to donate money and host events that raise awareness about our products. We need people to write and design products.
Mao is also rallying up Nomi Network’s in DC to participate in the walk on October 23, 2010, where thousands of people will gather on the National Mall for the DC Stop Modern Slavery Walk, a united effort to raise awareness about human trafficking, celebrate human rights and raise funds for organizations working to end human trafficking.
It will be the largest anti-human trafficking event in DC history! Mao will also be setting up a table at the event. Click here to register and sign up to walk with Nomi Network. Click on “join existing team” and scroll down to Nomi Network.
Nomi Network is a non-profit organization that aims to leverage the marketplace, film, and fashion to eradicate human trafficking. We aim to increase the financial independence of women who are vulnerable to or survivors of sex trafficking. 100% of the profit is reinvested into training and education programs. Mao received her BA from the University of California Santa Barbara in Business, Economics, and Accounting. She received her MPA from New York University.