In 2008, the Goldman Sachs Foundation launched the 10,000 Women Initiative. The program was and still is designed to promote economic growth and create strong communities through the empowerment of female entrepreneurs around the world. The theory behind the 10,000 Women Initiative is that by providing 10,000 women with the same opportunities as men and by giving them access to a business management education, mentoring and networking, and access to capital, the surrounding economy will improve and poverty will be reduced. The thinking is similar to that of The Girl Effect and G(IRL)S20; girls and women are the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. By providing women with knowledge and by empowering them in their business endeavors, the 10,000 Women Initiative opened many doors for women who would otherwise be obstructed by financial and practical circumstances.
By the end of 2013, the initiative had enrolled its 10,000th woman.
So did it work? In mid-2013, Babson College, a GBSN member school, partnered with the Goldman Sachs Foundation to measure the level of impact that the 10,000 Women Initiative had on different communities around the world. Using data that had been accrued from cohorts and countries all over the world over the span of four years, Babson measured the impact of the 10,000 Women Initiative and found support for the correlation between the empowerment of women in business and the overall health and prosperity of the community and the emerging economy in which the women were engaged. As women became more confident in their business practices and gained essential knowledge and mentoring, strong revenue and job growth was observed in the countries in which the initiative was implemented.
Babson draws four conclusions from their analysis of data from the 10,000 Women Initiative:
- “Women can be exceptional entrepreneurs across a diverse array of country and cultural contexts”
- “10,000 Women helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses and develop their business acumen”
- “Mentoring, advising, and networks are highly valued in the growth process”
- “Women entrepreneurs grow their businesses despite a lack of external financing”
In order to show the true impact of the 10,000 Women Initiative on developing countries, Babson monitored the economic growth in three countries: China, Brazil, and Nigeria. While there were slight differences in the results of the three countries, all three saw an increase in the confidence that women had to start their businesses, make crucial decisions, formulate business plans, and hire new employees.
Moreover, women in these developing countries proved to be extremely valuable to their local communities. The women who benefited from the 10,000 Women Initiative would “give back” to other women entrepreneurs by imparting knowledge to other women entrepreneurs. ‘Most women reported “paying it forward” by mentoring and teaching skills to an average of eight other women’ states Babson’s report. The report also offers various accounts from women who participated in the 10,000 Women Initiative.
While there is no direct or definite correlation between the empowerment of women in business and the alleviation of poverty, the data from the 10,000 Women Initiative and the report by Babson suggest that women are the driving force behind development and prosperity.
>> Click here to read Babson’s full progress report
Caryn Tin is the Research Intern at the Global Business School Network