In a just released paper, The Global Push to Unlock the Potential of Women Entrepreneurs, The Bridgespan Group discusses the efforts of corporations, NGOs and Philanthropies and financial institutions to help support women-owned small and midsized enterprises. According to Bridgespan Partner Jeri Eckhart Queenan, a co-author of the paper, “While women-owned companies create much needed jobs and contribute to economic prosperity, women are underrepresented as business owners and underserved by banks and government policy makers.”
She added, “Development experts recognize this failure to tap the potential of small and mid-sized firms as a missed opportunity on a grand scale.” A number of public, private, and social sector initiatives aimed at strengthening women-owned businesses have been created in recent years. Bridgespan’s paper cites, for example, an emerging assistance model, exemplified by Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative, networks, which was launched in 2008, and designed to help 10,000 women entrepreneurs over five years. The project built a network of some 89 academic and NGO partners who have taken the program to 43 countries. “We saw an opportunity to promote shared economic growth by investing in women and have been pleased with the results to date,” says Global Program Director Noa Meyer.
More recently, Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart have launched initiatives to help women business owners associated with each firms’ global supply networks. In addition, a number of NGOs provide training and mentoring for women entrepreneurs in developing countries. And global financial institutions have launched programs to help women access capital, markets, education, and business training.
According to co-author Jacob Allen, “All these programs have demonstrated a remarkable streak of innovative design with multifaceted approaches to providing assistance. What’s needed now is a better understanding and scaling of what works. Getting the investments right will have powerful ripple effects throughout the global economy.”
About The Bridgespan Group
The Bridgespan Group (www.bridgespan.org) is a nonprofit advisor and resource for mission-driven organizations and philanthropists. We collaborate with social sector leaders to help scale impact, build leadership, advance philanthropic effectiveness and accelerate learning. We work on issues related to society’s most important challenges and to break cycles of intergenerational poverty. Our services include strategy consulting, leadership development, philanthropy advising, and developing and sharing practical insights.