The power of pants: How the woman behind Lingerie London is empowering women one pair of knickers at a time
12:02 GMT, 26 October 2012
Abbey Crouch, Sarah Harding and Peaches Geldof may have stolen the headlines when they took to the catwalk to model lingerie on Wednesday evening but the real star of the show was the woman behind the event.
Renata Black, 33, organised Lingerie London in order to raise awareness of The Seven Bar Foundation which she set up in 2005 in order to help women help themselves out of poverty by giving them loans to start their own businesses.
The foundation is a fund-to-fund which helps women through micro-financing.
Behind the scenes: Renata Black at the Lingerie London show which she made possible to raise awareness of her Seven Bar Foundation
Renata told the MailOnline she came up with the idea when she was volunteering in India in 2004 following a chance encounter with a local woman.
She said: 'She came up to me and said, “I don't want money hand outs. I want to learn how to make money.”
'That's how the idea for the foundation was born. We want to empower women and enable self-sufficiency, it's about giving them a hand up, not a hand out.'
On the catwalk: Sarah Harding, left, and Abbey Crouch modelled at the show on Wednesday
Since the foundation was set up, loans have been given via micro-finance institutions which have been researched and approved by Renata to work with the foundation.
Women from countries including India, Mexico and the U.S. have used the loans to set up a variety of businesses and have then had to work under their own steam to make them a success.
Renata, who's from the U.S., said: 'It's dependent on the women being creative and then working hard to make their business work. So far successes have included a woman in New York who opened her own yoga studio and a woman in Mexico who was a garbage collector. She used a loan to buy some land so she can run her own garbage recycling centre.'
Knickers with a message: 'Empowered by You' pants have gone on sale to raise money for the foundation
Support: Sarah Harding shows off the knickers writing that she's empowered by 'feeling sexy' while Chris O'Dowd also personalised a pair
Personal pants: The knickers come in various colours and people can add their own message of what empowers them
The loans have 97 per cent repayment and are typically paid back within three to four months with 9-13 per cent interest.
Renata said the loans are only for women because 'they are the best investment'. She added that it's all about empowering women and breaking a cycle of poverty.
'The women who create a successful business can then send their children to school which creates more opportunities for families and inspires girls to follow in their mother's footsteps into business,' she said.
Micro-financing: Renata set up the Seven Bar Foundation so women could help themselves out of poverty by using loans to start their own businesses
Events like Wednesday's Lingerie London show, which was supported by Agent Provocateur and couture latex designer Atsuko Kudo, provide much-needed publicity or the foundation.
The evening was also used to launch the foundation's new venture, an exclusive lingerie brand called 'Empowered by You.'
The collection of Brazilian cut thongs, designed by former senior design director at Polo Ralph Lauren, Hun Kim, can be personalised by the wearer with what empowers them.
Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding wrote she was empowered by 'feeling sexy' while actor Chris O'Dowd said he was empowered by 'the women who raised me'.
Twenty per cent of sales from the knickers, which can be bought via www.empoweredbyyou.com for 18, will go to the foundation.
The knickers are available in colours including purple, orange, nude, grey and black in sizes small/medium and medium/large.
For more information visit www.sevenbarfoundation.org
Watch video from the Lingerie London show below…