Today, I am proud to launch our seventh Annual Review. Over the past financial year we have grown the work of our three core programmes, launched six new projects in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America, supported the creation of over 2,000 new businesses and more than 2,000 jobs, and reached an additional 18,000 women. This means that, to date, we have touched the lives of over 136,000 women in more than 90 developing and emerging economies.
This includes women like Claudette from Rwanda, Van Dang from Vietnam, and Saberaben from India. Their inspiring stories serve as a powerful reminder of why the Foundation focuses specifically on empowering women to grow successful and sustainable businesses. First and foremost, it is because we believe women deserve to participate in our economies on an equal footing with men. But it is also because we believe – and research proves – that women who are financially independent are better able to invest in their families and communities, generating benefits for all.
Claudette, for instance, plans to use her increased profits to send her daughter to university, while Van Dang has created 25 new jobs through her enterprise and Saberaben told us that she has gained renewed respect from her family as a result of her business success.
Improving women’s access to financial services continues to be a key pillar of our work. Over the last year we have forged strong links with financial institutions in Nigeria, Rwanda, India, Lebanon, Palestine and Sierra Leone, bringing them into direct dialogue with the women entrepreneurs we support. We also launched an exciting new project focused on building the financial literacy skills of Nigerian women entrepreneurs through a ‘blended learning’ approach which combines classroom training with e-learning.
2015 witnessed a growing surge in advocacy around women’s empowerment, linked to the birth of the new Sustainable Development Goals. As an organisation, we have amplified these global advocacy efforts by championing women’s economic empowerment at 11 high level events around the world, including the G7 Forum for Dialogue with Women in Berlin, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.
Our vision of a world where women have the confidence, capability and capital they need to thrive remains stronger than ever. We have made good strides towards the ambitious goal we set ourselves to empower 250,000 women by the end of 2019, and we remain committed to widening the circle of partners who support and fund our work, from private sector organisations and financial institutions to NGOs and government bodies. Together, we can empower more women like Claudette, Van Dang and Saberaben to realise their full potential and make a lasting difference in their families and communities.
Read the Annual Review in full here.