About Us Copy

About Us

Lensational is a non-profit social enterprise, founded on the International Women’s Day of 2013,
with the mission of equipping women from underrepresented groups and communities with cameras and photography
training so they can express themselves and represent themselves with dignity.

We believe in empowering women through photography. This includes: 

  • Emotional Empowerment: Gaining access to cameras gives women a new way to express themselves freely and to retain memories. Therapeutic photography is also a proven counselling technique to overcome social isolation.
  • Economic Empowerment: Our students will receive 50% of the revenue once their photographs are sold through Lensationals online platform and partner agencies. With photography skills, they can also pursue freelance photography opportunities.

 

2013
8th March 2013
Established
Lensational is born

On March 8, 2013, International Women's Day marked the birth of Lensational, a registered Non-profit Social Enterprise in Hong Kong. The inception of Lensational was founded by Bonnie Chiu from personal encounters that inspired the recognition that, in situations where language acted as a barrier to communication, photography could serve as a universal language. Furthermore, in a world where women are frequently constrained by biased stereotypes, photography emerged as a means for women to articulate their own voices and authentically portray themselves. Our initial programs were launched in Hong Kong, Pakistan, and Myanmar.

March 2013
Contetst
Resolution Project Social Venture Challenge (Australia)
May 2013
Training
1st training workshop in HongKong
May 2013
Training
Training workshop in Myanmar
Sept 2013
Training
Training programmme in Pakistan
Dec 2013
Contest
Social Venture Challenge Asia South Korea
4 years on
2014 to 2019
Expanding
Going to new countries

The period spanning from 2014 to 2019 witnessed remarkable and rapid expansion for Lensational as we piloted our approach in new countries and contexts. Collaborating with a dedicated network of volunteers, we successfully extended our training initiatives to encompass 16 new countries across Asia, South Asia and Africa. Furthermore, during this phase, Lensational achieved official registration as a charitable organization in the United Kingdom

May 2014
Contest
McKinsey Venture Academy & Advancing Development Challenge
Nov 2014
Funding
Raised 4066 GBP in contest and crowdfunding campaign
Feb 2015
Funding
Awarded 15,000 GBP as the winner for HIVOS social innovation awards
Feb 2015
Training
Run training workshops in China, Bangladesh and Kenya
July 2017
Partnerships
Became contributors to Getty Images
May 2018
Training
Launched a training programme in Kenya
August 2019
Photoboook
Our Shared Forest Lensationals first photobook
2020
March 2020
Rebranding
Moving to a bottom up approach

At the onset of 2020, we made a deliberate choice to transition to a bottom-up approach and streamline our operations to cover fewer countries. This pivotal decision coincided with the appointment of our current CEO, Lydia Wanjiku, as the first full-time Global Director for Programmes. This strategic shift was driven by our belief that organizational leadership should be in closer proximity to the regions where our programs are active.

April 2020
COVID Response
COVID-19 Response

When COVID struck we set out to ensure the safety of both our volunteers and storytellers. Additionally we committed financial resources help in supporting visual advocacy campaigns around health messages, especially targeting women with low income which encompassed majority of our photographers. 

April 2020
COVID Response
Rethinking training delivery and how we define impact
Amidst the downtime caused by the COVID pandemic, we proactively embarked on an in-depth program evaluation, reevaluating our training approach and its overall effectiveness. This initiative resulted in the creation of a new training curriculum, signifying a departure from our previous short-duration training programs that lasted only a few days. Instead, we introduced comprehensive training programs spanning several months, underscoring our commitment to achieving both far-reaching impact and the cultivation of in-depth skills. This strategic shift has significantly enhanced our capacity to deliver more effective and impactful training.
2021
May 2021 to Now
Bridging
Connecting our photographers with policy makers

In 2021, we were well-prepared for the commencement of innovative collaborations aimed at enabling our photographers' stories to reach policy makers and foster meaningful dialogues. In May 2021, we initiated an ongoing partnership with the National Adaptation Plan Global Network (NAP GN), with the overarching objective of amplifying the voices of underrepresented women in adaptation planning under an initiative called Envisioning Resilience.

May 2021
Training
Pilot for Envisioning Resilience Initiative Kenya
June 2021
Training
Pilot for Enivisioning Resilience Ghana
Nov 2021
Global Policy Discussions
Participation in COP 27
March 2022
Policy Dialogue
Policy dialogues in Kenya and Ghana under Envisioning Resilience
Nov 2022
Training
Participation in COP 28
2023
Feb 2023
Expanding
Expanding horizons

In 2023, we have witnessed a multifaceted impact and significant progress. We have launched the "Envisioning Resilience" initiative in Jamaica and are on the verge of commencing a similar project in Rwanda. we have witnessed a surge in interest in the work of our photographers, with both individuals and institutions expressing a desire to commission these photographers for various assignments.

Feb 2023
Training
Commencement of Envisioning Resilience Initiative Ghana
June 2023
Economic empowerment
Photographers in Kenya under the Envisioning Resilience Initiative are commissioned on assignment
August 2023
Policy Dialogue
Policy dialogue in Jamaica
Nov 2022
Training
Launch of the first advanced training programme
Nov 2022
Training
Participation in COP 28