Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland is not as famous as Oprah Winfrey, but maybe she should be. Like Oprah, she’s built schools for girls in developing countries. But unlike Oprah, spent much more time building schools than on TV. Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland is also not as famous as Bill Gates, but like Bill Gates, she built her own, hugely-successful company from the ground and has given computers and education aid to children in all over the world. Like Gates, she says education is the key to the future, but she’s better known for charity work than for building software.
Just who is Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland? She is the founder and managing partner of Ounavarra Capital, LLC. Her firm manages investment funds, funds which are considered “alternative” investments because they have an altruistic bent that Wall Street’s money moguls ignore as they collect ever-larger bonuses whether shareholders make money or not. But Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland isn’t nearly as well known for her success at making money as she is for giving it away and for supporting education programs around the world, especially for disadvantaged girls.
Girls are deprived of education in most developing countries. Girls in these countries are considered extremely fortunate if they can even learn to read, let alone stay in school past second or third grade. Usually, they are forced into a life of domestic labor in societies where chauvinistic abuse toward women and girls is usually ignored and frequently condoned. They grow up as women caught in a continuous cycle of poverty that drags men down with them and keeps whole nations stuck in squalor. The key to breaking the poverty cycle is education, says O'Reilly-Hyland, especially those who’ve never had schooling.
As an active board member of Educating Girls Globally (EGG), Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland has donated funds and supported girls’ education efforts around the globe. In Rajasthan, the largest province in India, few girls ever went to school until recently. They were often married by the time they were ten or eleven and “kept” under supervision until being old enough to be sent off to their husbands’ homes. EGG’s efforts have helped 500 schools in Rajasthan enroll 99% if the girls in their respective district while improving academic performance at those schools for both girls and boys. Educating girls will double India’s global talent pool, and that can’t possibly be bad for business.