News items and links featured on Womenable.com Between January and June 2010
Bridging the 'capital chasm' for WOBs in India: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan are joining forces to provide a boost to growth-oriented women entrepreneurs in India. A grant of $3 million from the Government of Japan's Fund for Poverty Reduction, administered by ADB, will be used to help women entrepreneurs in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, access financial resources and market opportunities to boost incomes and improve their quality of life.
The target group will be women whose businesses have outgrown traditional microfinance support, but who are unable to access more conventional bank financing , the so called "missing middle" group of the small enterprise sector, which forms the lifeblood of India's informal economy.
The project has several innovative features including an integrated approach to microenterprise development, the recruitment of women as livelihood enterprise learning advisors, and the establishment of a rating system for micro businesses.
The grant will be linked to the ADB-financed Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Development Project, which includes a $50 million loan and $250 million partial credit guarantee facility, designed to boost the small business sector.
For additional information on this project, CLICK HERE. (June 2010)
Women tallied as the 'third billion': Several years ago, an article in The Economist (subscription required) stated, "Forget China, India, and the Internet: economic growth is driven by women." The article, one of the first to coin the term "womenomics," pointed out both the increasing number of women in the workforce, as well as their underutilization as an economic resource.
Fast forward four years. Much more has now been written about the growing economic empowerment of women - both the gains that have been made and the gaps that remain. Now a new article has been written, this time in strategy+business magazine, once again equating the economic power of women with that of China and India.
This article, "The Third Billion," is written by two analysts from consulting firm Booz & Company. It draws upon data from the International Labour Organization and estimates the number of "not prepared" (lacking a post-primary education) and "not enabled" (not supported by family or community) women around the world in the year 2020 to be approximately 1 billion - equal to the economic size of China and India, the first and second billion.
While in Womenable's opinion this article grossly simplifies the situation (saying "it may require much social and legal change" is an understatement to say the least) - and presumes a Westernized goal of "harnessing the power of women" - it nonetheless provides a useful measurement of the potential that could be reached should more women become "prepared" and "enabled." (June 2010)
Focusing on 'the female factor': It comes on the heels, pun intended, of a series of news reports and research studies late last year which spread the news that:
as women gain an economic foothold, family and workplace dynamics change, and
shock of shocks, public policies and social support for this growing trend are lagging behind, leaving many women - like the one on the right - balancing on a tightrope. (read a recent issue of The Economist, with Rosie the Riveter on the cover)
In between these two articles are 18 other fascinating takes on how women's roles are changing, and how it is impacting political, social and economic life around the world.
All in all, it's a series well worth reading. You can even follow their articles and commentary on Facebook or subscribe to an RSS feed to ensure that you'll know when new articles come out. (June 2010)
Survey finds women business owners' actions lag intent in customer service: A new survey conducted among 320 women business owners with revenues of up to $10 million USD finds that, while women business owners put customer service and client retention at the top of their business priorities, many have not implemented formal customer relations programs within their companies.
When asked about their top strategic and operational strategies for the coming year, the women surveyed picked prospecting/sales (36%), customer retention (35%) and customer service (33%) as the top three out of eight items offered. However, when asked if they had a "dedicated customer service strategy," just 18% stated that they had a formal, company-wide service and support strategy, while 55% said they did it on a case-by-case basis. Fully 27% had no customer service strategy.
Other shortcomings cited by the study's authors:
61% do not use social media for customer service outreach,
49% of those surveyed do not track customer purchase activity or volume, and
only one-third of those surveyed produce a newsletter or e-newsletter for customers.
While Womenable would caution against drawing too many conclusions from such a small sample size - one that does not allow for industry or business size comparisons - it is nonetheless refreshing to see a survey point out where women business owners could do better, and to offer strategies for growth and improvement.
The study was conducted for Key4Women (Key Bank's outreach program for women business owners) by Forbes Insights. It can be downloaded for free (upon giving them your contact information) at this link. Or read a news release summary of key study findings at this link. (June 2010)
Honoring innovative women entrepreneurs in developing economies:EMPRETEC, a capacity-building program of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has helped over 8,000 growth-oriented entrepreneurs in 27 developing economies with training, technical assistance and market linkages since its launch in Argentina in 1988.
Recently, it has paid some special attention to fostering the growth and development of women-owned enterprises. In late April, it bestowed its 2010 Women in Business Awards to three women, all of whom exceeded in the three key criteria of innovation, entrepreneurial vision, and business accomplishment:
Beatrice Ayuru Byaruhanga of Uganda, the first-place winner, who founded Lira Integrated School in 2000;
Mar√≠a de la Luz Osses Klein of Chile, founder of Biotecnolog√≠as Antofagasta SA, which creates biotechnology products for the mining industry; and
third-place winner Joy Simakane of Botswana, owner of Extramile Express PTY Limited, which provides customs-clearing and messenger-delivery services.
The winners receive customized consulting services and/or study tours to help increase their business skills and connections.
Click on THIS LINK to visit the EMPRETEC YouTube channel, where you will find brief videos featuring these three enterprising women. (May 2010)
Cast your vote for your favorite womenabling nonprofit organization: Calling all womenablers! You have one week left to shine a light on a favorite non-profit organization that's making the world a better place for women.
GreatNonprofits and GuideStar have launched the 2010 Women's Empowerment Campaign, in partnership with a whole host of women-focused groups, including: Kiva, the National Organization for Women, the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, MADRE, Wider Opportunities for Women, Dress for Success, Women's Media Center, Women News Network, Women's Philanthropy -- Women's Issues, World Pulse, and Vivanista. The goal - to identify and shine a spotlight on top-rated nonprofits focusing on women's issues.
The contest ends on May 31, so - sometime during the next week, click on this link to nominate your favorite NGO and/or add a comment to reviews that have already been posted. Thus far, there are nearly 1,000 reviews of over 200 organizations.
What are the benefits of spending a few moments sharing your thoughts?
Recognition: Every organization that gathers 10 or more positive reviews during the month of May will make the GreatNonprofits Top-Rated Women's Empowerment Nonprofits list;
Community engagement: It's a wonderful opportunity for nonprofits and their community members to interact and engage directly via providing their comments; and
First-person stories: Clients, volunteers, donors and others can share with the public, in their own words, how this nonprofit serves its community.
So, take a few moments to add your voice to the others applauding virtually for all of the hard-working non-profit organizations that are making a difference for the world's women! (May 2010)
Small businesses feted in US, Europe: There must be something in the air. It's spring and businesses are sprouting up all over - or that's what governments in Europe and the United States are encouraging, by spearheading nearly concurrent celebrations honoring the economic and social contributions of small businesses on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
The US Small Business Administration rings in its 47th annual Small Business Week (though, hmm, the events only span 3 days) on May 23 - 25, with speeches, awards and seminars - many of which will be streamed live on the web. Check it out at: nationalsmallbusinessweek.com.
Across the pond in Europe, 27 countries are expected to convene over 1,000 events during the second annual European SME Week, which is expected to reach an estimated 3 million participants. The festivities start on 25 May and run through 1 June (an actual week). Check out the action at the link above. (May 2010)
Women's enterprise development in the Gulf region: Support for women's enterprise development can be found in every region of the globe. Here's a round-up of some recent women's enterprise activities in the Middle East - in particular in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, thought by many to be among the most conservative in the world with respect to women's rights:
In Qatar, an International Businesswomen Forum was held recently in Doha. At the event, the Minister of State for Energy praised the strength and growth of women business owners in the country, bestowing awards on several women business owners and key government supporters of women's enterprise development, including the Forum's chairwoman Sheikha Hessah bint Khalifa al-Thani;
Ebda, a women's business organization, recently held its 7th annual conference in Saudi Arabia. Entitled, "ebda's exchange," the conference attracted over 300 women from Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries; and
A new project is underway in Yemen. Khadija, located in the ancient city of Sana'a, is designed as a women's business center of sorts, providing training and education services for women - especially young women - who wish to start businesses. Womenable's not so sure about the project slogan - Çƒ?behind each successful woman there is a great manÇƒ? - but in that region of the world, garnering the support of men in the community is key to women's economic empowerment. Context matters.
So, let this brief round-up show us that there are positive signs for women's entrepreneurship everywhere, if one just takes the time to look. (May 2010)
Defining the scope of "hidden" social enterprises: How many firms can be considered as social enterprises? A new report from womenabling researcher Rebecca Harding, principal of Delta Economics in the UK, finds that it depends on how narrowly or broadly one defines a "social enterprise" - but, regardless of the definition, women are far more likely than men to be in business to make a difference as well as to make a profit.
Harding's report, "Hidden Social Enterprises," finds that nearly half of firms surveyed in a recent study of mezzanine-level, for-profit, growth-oriented firms (owner-founded/operated, 2-10 years in business, turnover of ¨£200K+) could be broadly considered "value driven" - meaning that they were motivated to start their business to, among other things, "make a difference either socially, environmentally or in terms of job creation." Just 21%, though, said that it was their primary motivation. Harding refers to these firms as "make a difference" enterprises.
Beyond motivation, however, Harding adds in behavior - such as reinvesting profits and not paying shareholder dividends. (If a firm does the former they are considered a "broad hidden social enterprise" and if they do both they are a "pure hidden social enterprise.") She finds that:
women and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be both broadly and purely defined as a "hidden social enterprise",
hidden social enterprises have similar growth goals and expectations as their profit-motivated counterparts, and
they are growing faster in terms of turnover and employment than the average firm surveyed.
In particular, Harding finds that 21% of the firms surveyed can be defined as "pure hidden social enterprises" and that women (34%) are twice as likely to be found in that group as are men (17%).
More proof that businesses can do well by doing good, and that putting people over profits can indeed pay off. Kudos to Delta Economics and Rebecca Harding for a fascinating report. (April 2010)
Women in leadership positions key to economic growth in Europe: The title of the new report from the European Commission says it all: "More women in senior positions key to economic stability and growth." This effort - which takes a look at the current position of women in government, finance, STEM fields, business, the judiciary, and politics - finds that, while women have made some recent advances in some areas, significant gender gaps remain. For example:
women hold 45% of PhDs but just 18% of senior researcher positions in science, technology, engineering and math fields,
none of the governors of central banks in the EU are women, and
just 11% of corporate board positions are held by women.
The report and related information can be found on this page on the European Commission's web site.
The multi-sector approach of this recent status report is similar in many ways to another recent US-focused effort from the White House project, entitled "Benchmarking Women's Leadership." It, too, looked at the status of women in a variety of fields and found mixed results - some progress in a number of areas, but continued gaps - especially in elective politics, the military, and the media. (April 2010)
New 'Women's Empowerment Principles' from the UN: Last month during various meetings and consultations marking International Women's Day and the 54th session of the the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the United Nations launched a new initiative engaging the corporate sector in gender equality issues. Entitled "Women's Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business," the manifesto contains "a set of considerations" for private sector players (mostly large corporations) related to improving gender equality. The seven principles are:
establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality,
treat all women and men fairly at work,
ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers,
promote education, training, and professional development for women,
implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women,
promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy, and
measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality.
Can online gaming help save the world?: Some folks (maybe anyone over 30?) may think that online gaming is all about alternative worlds, military conflict, and bleak, futuristic settings. But gaming designer Jane McGonigal thinks that youthful gamers can be turned on to helping to make our current world a better place.
A newly launched online game, Urgent Evoke, urges interested players to accept one or more missions, and to evoke (call up) an innovative response to the challenge. The game is aimed at students, an unspecified number of whom can - in addition to getting involved in community-level action and cyberspace social networking - become eligible for scholarships and other prizes. While focused on Africa, gamers from around the world - nearly 4,000 so far, have signed on to participate.
Even though it's "only a game," the end result is hoped to be innovation, community-based problem-solving, increased volunteerism, and entrepreneurial energy. The World Bank Institute was interested enough in the concept to invest $500,000 in the effort.
Click this link to read an excellent article about the effort that recently appeared on CNN.com. And visit the Urgent Evoke web site to learn more about the game.
It's an inventive concept. After all, why can't saving the world be fun? (April 2010)
New report on women, business and the law: A new report from the World Bank suggests that there are six key markers by which to assess the relative legal rights on women and men that impact entrepreneurial activity - and finds that equal rights for women are firmly established in only 20 of 128 countries included in the study.
While the report does not look at outcomes, but simply identifies whether or not laws are equal for both women and men, it is interesting (and unfortunately not surprising) to note that only 20 of 128 countries included in the assessment have established equal rights for women under the law: just 1 country in Africa, 2 in East Asia Pacific, 4 in Latina America/Caribbean, and the remaining 13 in OECD/developed economies.
To download the report, click on the link above. This report also marks the relaunch and rebranding of the World Bank's Gender Law Library, which is now a part of the Women, Business and the Law web page. (April 2010)
The study, published by the UNDP as one in a series of Asia-Pacific Human Development Reports, gathers an impressive body of statistics to drive home the point - already well-discussed in the region - that the region is home to some of the largest gender gaps on the planet.
As stated in the report's overview, "WomenÇƒÙs chronic under-representation in economic, political and legal institutions across the region has produced deficits in
power and voice, which in turn allow inequalities
to go unchallenged."
So what is the way forward? The report points out that change is needed in all three of those areas - economics, politics, and the law - and states that institutional transformation is a necessary first step toward real, lasting change.
Read more about the study, and download the full report, at this web site, and click here to read the news release that was issued at the launch event in New Delhi. (April 2010)
Assessing women's enterprise in Europe: A newly-discovered report from the European Microfinance Network takes a comparative look at the environment for women's enterprise development in eight countries - assessing relative levels of gender equality on six dimensions - and highlighting good practices in support for women's entrepreneurship. It's definitely worth a read, and worth a spot on your womenabling reference shelf.
gender equality in support structures for entrepreneurship, and
gender equality in access to finance.
The countries are rated most highly on general gender equality in society, and lowest on support structures for women's enterprise development. There was the most variability in ranking among the eight countries on the access to finance dimension. Scores are calibrated on a 1-5 scale. In no country and on no dimension did any country garner a 4 or higher.
One of the best features of the 76-page report is its reference to good practices in the countries studied. Some of the policies and practices that are highlighted include:
The report also contains a number of very useful policy and practice recommendations, targeted to policy makers, practitioners, finance providers, and researchers.
For more information on the European Microfinance Network, and to download the report, click on the links above. Thanks go to Zunia.org, a wonderful development news aggregator, for highlighting this report. (April 2010)
DCED discusses WED: The Donor Committee for Enterprise Development, a confederation of international aid agencies in developed economies, has just met in Geneva to discuss common interests in the area of women's enterprise - exciting news for we womenablers.
Catalyst discovers a "broken pipeline":Catalyst, a leading voice for women's advancement in corporations since 1962, is starting to lose their patience. A report recently issued by them, entitled "Pipeline's Broken Promise," finds that - regardless of well-intentioned efforts within major corporations - women start out their corporate careers one step behind men and maintain that gap throughout their careers.
More specifically, the study finds that:
women lag their male counterparts from the first job onward, scoring lower positions and lower salaries in their first corporate jobs out of the starting gate;
these salary differences persist as women and men progress up the career ladder; and
these differences exist regardless of aspirational goals or parental status.
The study is based on interviews with over 4,000 women and men receiving MBAs from 26 leading business schools on three continents between 1996 and 2007, who are still working full-time in corporations. (Makes one wonder what the results would have been if they had interviewed some of the graduates who are no longer working in these large firms.)
Womenable, for one, is happy to see that Catalyst is finally taking their gloves off a bit. Despite their best efforts - which have been invaluable in bringing attention and good research to the lack of advancement of women in the corporate world - only 14% of top executives in the world's publicly-traded corporations are women, and only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Yes, one could certainly say that "inequality remains entrenched" in these halls of corporate power. A mild understatement to say the least. (February 2010)
Dialing up women's economic empowerment: The Cherie Blair Foundation - launched last year and coming on strong for women's economic empowerment - and the GSMA Development Fund, the charitable arm of a group representing the interests of the mobile communications industry, have just published a report exploring the gender gap in mobile phone usage worldwide, the market opportunity that gap represents, AND the effect that having mobile communications capabilities can have on women's economic empowerment.
The report, "Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity," blends primary research conducted in four developing nations (Bolivia, Egypt, India and Kenya) with third-party data, including UN statistics and market intelligence from the telecommunications industry - proving that one can learn a lot by looking at existing information in new ways.
Some of the key findings from this effort:
a woman is 21% less likely to own a phone than a man in low and middle-income countries. Gaps are largest in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa;
93% of women report feeling safer because of their mobile phone;
41% of women report having increased income and professional opportunities once they own a phone; and
going forward, two-thirds of new mobile phone subscribers worldwide will be women.
The New Black Power: In its February 10 issue, Black Enterprise magazine is publishing its list of the 75 most powerful women in business. A blend of women in senior positions in large corporations as well as women business owners, the list features such well-known business leaders as:
Ursula Burns, CEO at Xerox, the first African American woman to lead a Fortune 100 corporation,
Catherine Hughes, Founder of Radio One Inc., the first woman-owned company to own a radion station ranked #1 in its market, and
Oprah Winfrey, CEO of Harpo Productions - we all know her!
but also some less well-known business powerhouses such as:
Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments LLC,
Freda Lewis-Hall, Chief Medical Officer at Pfizer, and
Deloris Sims, President and CEO of Legacy Bank, the only bank holding company in the US organized by African American women.
Click on this link to read the article and check out the complete list of powerful women. You go, girls! (February 2010)
Women in High Tech: Progress, But Money Still Lagging: An interesting and well-researched new report spells out the progress that women have made in the fields of science and technology, yet illuminates the continuing chasm between progress and perception with respect to women, high-tech industries, and equity funding.
there are more and more women attaining degrees in math, science, computing and engineering,
there has been a strong increase of the presence of women in "C suite" positions in high-tech companies that have gone public (from 10% in 1997 to 55% in 2007),
there is now solid evidence that this greater diversity in management teams leads to greater profitability, and yet
very few VC deals or dollars flow to women-led companies.
Why? One of the reasons cited in the report is the problem of "pattern recognition" - the fact that VC decision-makers fund the familiar, and women-led firms have not become familiar enough.
What to do? Get more women on both sides of the deal table, and break the inertia of pattern recognition. Sounds like sound advice to us!
To learn more, click on the links above to download and read the report (free, but registration required). (February 2010)
From the G8 to the W8: We've heard of the G8 and the G20 - groups of countries that come together on occasion to talk (and, some say, little else) about issues of mutual importance. Well, even though few grand declarations come out of these gatherings, Womenable subscribes to the view espoused by Winston Churchill that "jaw, jaw is better than war, war."
However, while you may be familiar with the G20 and G8, we're betting you've never hear of the W8. Neither had we until recently. They are a group of eight women from civil society organizations that have come together - under the aegis of Oxfam International - to discuss, blog, and raise the level of visibility on issues of importance to women, such as health, education, and basic human rights: all of the issues included in the Millennium Development Goals.
Read more about them at this page on the Oxfam web site. (February 2010)
Talkin' 'bout a revolution: In the latest issue of Enterprising Women magazine - a chock-full double issue on global business - Womenable President and CEO Julie Weeks offers a few thoughts about the state of women's enterprise internationally, and suggests what we really need now is a revolution.
"You can say it is a tale of two cities for women's enterprise development these days. On the one hand there is ..." CLICK HERE to download and read the full article.
You may also wish to click on the link below to learn more about Enterprising Women magazine, and read more articles from this great issue. (January 2010)
Leveraging technology to improve women's livelihoods: Starting at the end of January - and running for 4 months - the Ashoka Foundation's Changemakers initiative, a social networking/collaborative forum, is holding a competition to seek the most promising technologies to improve economic opportunities for women in the developing world.
The winner of the competition will receive funding to launch their innovation, support and networking. The competition is being sponsored by Exxon Mobil. After the competition entries close in mid May, womenablers everywhere will be able to review and vote for the most promising idea, so bookmark this site and follow the progress of the competition. The winner will be announced in late June.
The Ashoka Changemakers' initiative is holding some other interesting competitions this spring, for strategies to raise awareness about gender-based violence, initiatives to build the field of social enterprise, and innovative solutions to addressing child nutrition - among others.
To learn more about the technology for women's enterprise competition, to nominate an initiative for consideration, or to share the news of this competition with others in your social networks, visit the Changemakers' technology competition summary page. For information about other upcoming competitions, click here. (January 2010)
ILO's WED program boasts a new look: The International Labour Organisation has long had an interest in women's economic empowerment, and its WEDGE (Women's Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality) program has produced a number of insightful reports and training curricula.
The initiative has received a recent make-over, with a new logo (from a woman-owned firm, of course) - which emphasizes WED over WEDGE - a newly restructured web page, and an electronic newsletter.
All are worth a look. Visit the ILO-WED web page to learn more, and to sign up for the e-newsletter. (January 2010)
Lipstick entrepreneurs? Arrrgh! The article in the UK's Sunday Times on 3 January began in a promising manner, referring to recent reports that 2010 will usher in the decade of the woman entrepreneur:
"'A tenfold increase in the number of female CEOs in FTSE 100 companies!', 'Double the number of female MPs!', '100% growth in women-owned start-ups!' ÇƒÓ these predictions come from the trendspotter Jeremy Baker, of ECSP Europe Business School."
But the article's headline? "Meet the lipstick entrepreneurs" - ugh! And where is the article placed? In the paper's "Life & Style" section - double ugh!!
OK, so maybe this cheeky headline is just a nod to the title of a recent report from The Future Laboratory sponsored by Avon Products, but Womenable prefers the sentiments and styling of this shout out to the UK's women business owners, which we likewise came across on the same date:
While Womenable frequently admires the UK's cheeky monikers, such as "mind the gap," we know that words matter. This recent headline - and the placement of the article in the Style section rather than in Business - speak volumes about why, despite policy efforts, women's entrepreneurship in the UK still lags that in the US and in many other developed economies. C'mon Sunday Times, treat women business owners as the economic engine that they are, and don't belittle the message of the article by slapping on a demeaning headline and placing it in the Style section. That's so last century. (January 2010)