Besides sharing information about women in business, I am passionate about international everything. I grew up moving around the globe with my family, and was never able to get rid of the travel bug. In college, I became interested in social innovation and entrepreneurship and found ways to be involved with every club that knew anything about it. So naturally, when I came across Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative I was intrigued.
The international women initiative began four years ago and has one year left. $100 million was put into action to help educate 10,000 women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging markets. The focus was on nurturing small and medium enterprises and Goldman was to provide trainings in business management to help drive greater shared economic growth. They said this would lead to stronger healthcare, education, and greater prosperity in the communities where they operate. Sounds good to me. So I researched more and started reading stories.
Andeisha is from Afghanistan and works in childcare. She is the executive director of the Afghan Child Education and Care Organization (AFCECO). This business operates orphanages in Afghanistan and Pakistan where they house over 300 orphans. Andeisha enrolled in the 10,000 women initiative to help her improve her management and leadership skills. After four years she said she has learned how to develop a strategic plan for the development of her organization. She learned finance and marketing skills to help grow her business and feels more confident as a leader. She also learned the importance of networking. She has hired on seven administrative staff and six support staff in each orphanage.
After reading the stories, I was hooked. But why would Goldman Sachs invest so much money into these women? I came across a blog post that explains it well. Goldman’s own research shows that female education drives macroeconomic growth. Harvard University’s Calestous Juma, a professor of international development, estimated that if African women had the same access to training and technology that men did, Arica’s economy would expand by at least 40 percent. Goldman understands that teaching women about access to finance, risk aversion, growth, and regulatory issues opens up doors that not only help them, but help the entire economy around them. The program itself does not provide credit, but they have many public-private partnerships that do.
This is cool. But on to my next question, is it working? Not so surprisingly, it is. The International Center for Research on Women did an assessment of the program in India in 2011. It showed that half of the women involved in the program in India doubled their revenues in 18-months. The study gave credit to 10,000 Women for providing women entrepreneurs with crucial knowledge and tools they need to expand their businesses.
Goldman understands the power of women in business and women entrepreneurs. Enough so, that they are now deep into their 5 year long initiative to fund 10,000 of them around the world. It’s an initiative that is innovative, inspiring, and hopeful. I just hope the belief and help for women entrepreneurs around the world doesn’t stop at the end of their five year goal.