Despite data that correlates women’s participation with higher gross domestic product, women remain excluded in economies worldwide. Cherie Blair, Founder of The Cherie Blair Foundation, described the barriers that women face. Beginning with an inferior education and societal pressures to marry, many women struggle to set up and run businesses. The economic effects of COVID-19 affected women more acutely than men, and women are recovering more slowly.
In response, Blair described her organization’s efforts to develop a road to growth program that provides education in financial literacy, connecting women with peers and strengthening an entrepreneurial network.
Kerry Moreland, Vice President Established Areas, Exploration & New Ventures, Upstream Business Development at ExxonMobil, described how, since 2005, her company has supported women in 90 countries with investments to benefit women and women-owned businesses. Entrepreneurs can drive massive growth in both developing and mature economies. Women, she continued, are an untapped business asset.
Nneka Okekearu, Deputy Director, Enterprise Development Centre, Pan Atlantic University, described how investing in a single individual can have ripple effects throughout her community. Charity Wallace, Founder and President of Wallace Global Impact, added that women reinvest 90% of their earnings into their families and communities. The correct approach, continued Blair, is to empower women to do things for themselves. It is a long-term process, so long-term investments in capacity building are key.
If we don’t develop the talents of the women of the world, we will not reach those Sustainable Development Goals.
As we think about the topic of women’s economic empowerment and creating effective tools for women entrepreneurs, I think that, arguably, the biggest missed market opportunity is that of women.
We fundamentally believe that women’s entrepreneurship has the ability to drive positive economic growth and social change around the world.
We talk about the ripple effect and we talk about GDP, but something as simple as being assured that your children can go to school. . . I think that’s so powerful.