The Coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries. Our Founder, Cherie Blair, gives her thoughts…
I wanted to speak to you today about the Coronavirus’ impact on women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries – what the challenges are, and where the opportunities might lie.
These are, of course, incredibly difficult times as we adjust to this unprecedented crisis. It’s important, however, to remember that not everyone stands to be impacted equally by this pandemic.
Women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries – for whom I set up the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women in 2008 – are particularly struggling.
The pre-existing barriers to business which they face are compounded by the Coronavirus and its knock-on effects: a lack of access to finance, lack of networks and mentors, competing gendered priorities such as providing care and domestic labour, and many more intersecting issues will increase if gender sensitive strategies are not put in place to counter them.
At the Foundation we remain completely committed to closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship during this difficult time and beyond, and are finding that our programmes are in more demand now than ever due to the implications of the virus.
We’ve been surveying the women in our programmes to understand its impacts on themselves and their businesses, and looking at how we can both adapt our offer and advocate on their behalf to ensure they are supported through this – so their businesses, livelihoods and families can survive and thrive beyond the crisis.
As the bulk of our programmes are already virtual and tech-based, my Foundation is thankfully well placed to adapt quickly to the new environment. And we’re seeing the world coming together through the power of tech like never before – something we’re delighted to already have the infrastructure to facilitate! We’re setting up new online networks, making some of our digital learning resources open sources on our website, and adapting our online platforms to bring women entrepreneurs’ voices and experiences to the front through videos, blogs and podcasts. But we’d love to do even more!
We know, thanks to research we co-published with Boston Consulting Group last year, that if women had equal opportunities to be entrepreneurs, global GDP could rise by a whopping 5 trillion dollars. Now, during an economic crisis, that need is felt more heavily than ever.
So, when we look to the future, and to rebuilding the global economy, it’s absolutely vital that we recognise that investing in women, and in creating a global business ecosystem that is truly gender equal is the greatest opportunity of our time. If putting women at the heart of our response to this pandemic means we see a leap in progress wouldn’t that be a great thing!
I’ve been touched by the phenomenal outpouring of support and philanthropy from companies, institutions and individuals like yourselves at this time. With so much evidence showing all the good that supporting women who own small and medium businesses through this will bring, I truly hope that this incredible good will and generosity can be directed for the benefit of women entrepreneurs.
Each and every one of us can play a role in helping to create a strong, positive, more equal future together, so I hope I can count on you to join us on our mission and help us to do exactly this!
— Cherie Blair CBE QC, Founder, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
How can you support us?
With major implications for economies, businesses and entrepreneurs around the globe, the need for our work during this time increases. If you are able to help by making a donation today you’ll be enabling us to continue and expand the services women entrepreneurs need more than ever to support their families, communities and societies for years to come.