Champion of Change: Sarah Akkari


For over eight years, Sarah Akkari, CEO of Senteurs d”Orient (USA), the company that her mother started has made a difference to improving the lives of poor women’s in Lebanon. Senteurs d’orient , a company based in Lebanon that makes hand made soaps and fragrances employs women workers at their factory in Beirut. In addition to paying their salaries, they help them develop basic skills, including reading and writing and managing their money. The income enables them to have control over their own decisions and to choose how best to support their families, especially their daughters. 

Sarah has a partnership with UNDP in Lebanon to identify women to support them to expand their businesses. Senteur’s Women Initiatives works with UNDP to make grants to NGOs to train women in marketing, microfinancing, computer skills and networking. As the company expands, they plan to work regionally to replicate their model to support more rural women entrepreneurs. 

Sarah who speaks four languages and had the benefit of an education in Paris was shocked to see how women were treated when she returned to Lebanon. She and her two sisters were raised to do anything they wanted by their parents and she was outraged by the lack of opportunity for girls and women. “Giving women salaries and steady work has improved their status within their families and given them financial independence and freedom to make decisions separate from their husbands. This in turn has benefited their entire family.” Sarah believes that basic education is a fundamental right that will give girls and women the skills they need to have control over their lives. She is committed to continue building her business for greater social impact and hopes to level the playing field for women through skills development and economic empowerment.

Sarah is one of the many inspiring people selected as part of our Champions of Change campaign, which honors individuals who have made a difference in the lives of women and girls in the Metro New York area and globally.

This economy video recognizes  all the champions in the category of addressing violence against women.


Mary Luke