As our new research reveals, women business owners around the world are adjusting to the new reality: shuttering their doors due to stay-at-home orders and pivoting their offerings to respond to COVID-19.
We remain completely committed to supporting these women all over the world during this incredibly difficult time and beyond. Two weeks ago, we brought you videos and stories from some of the women in our Mentoring and Entrepreneurship programmes on how the Coronavirus has impacted them and their businesses, and why our programmes, support, advocacy, and the networks we facilitate are now more vital than ever. Now, you can hear directly from a selection of the women we work with in Nigeria through both our Mentoring and Entrepreneurship programmes, on how they’re innovating to support their communities.
Many women, such as Peace, remind us that the pandemic has compounded preexisting barriers for women entrepreneurs, such as the discrimination they face from banks and financial service providers. As she stresses, in these uncertain times, empowering women remains the smartest investment that can be made – they don’t just run businesses, they inspire others in their communities as well:
As we see every day, women entrepreneurs are resilient, creative, strong and forward-thinking, but the new need to respond to this crisis when coupled with these preexisting barriers means that even more support is needed before. The impact of this much-needed support doesn’t just stop with one woman, either.
One small business owner demonstrates so well that when you support a woman, you support many more people: “It is obvious that those who want to survive and grow must come up with innovative ideas How? I want to be part of such victory What are the ideas that will give that quantum leap? And as I receive, how can I give as well so more women can grow?”
Conversely, when a woman entrepreneur faces major challenges, very often many others are put at risk too. Ololade, who runs Ileoge Women’s Initiative in Lagos, embodies this perfectly as she strives to support other women who are finding not only their finances but their mental health impacted:
Ololade told us that, in order to support these women, her company has rapidly gone into partnership with food company RichLife Africa on Project Save the Hungry, a campaign to distribute 20 million meals to them and their families.
She demonstrates again the enormous need for women entrepreneurs, who have developed skills and confidence through our programmes, to be invested in and supported financially not only in order to progress their businesses but because they create such important impacts for others.
Women’s incredible capacity to handle pressure, adapt and innovate is also articulated by Soraya, who is another business owner rapidly pivoting her company to meet growing needs for bread and other baked goods:
We’re incredibly proud and humbled to hear that our tools, resources and networks have provided such valuable support to the women in our programmes during this enormously challenging time. To see the skills these women have developed applied beyond their own businesses in order to provide vital relief to their communities is an incredible testimony to what women can do when they are invested in and when their barriers to business are removed.
Now, we want to encourage others to channel their support to women entrepreneurs too, because as our Founder Cherie Blair said in an interview with Global Citizen Magazine earlier this year, “Being brought up by a single mother I knew first-hand from an early age how important it is for women to be able to support themselves. We see this incredible ripple effect at the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women every day – when you help a woman, very often you help a family, a community and beyond. Research shows that if women and men had equal access to entrepreneurship, global GDP could rise by an enormous $5 trillion – just think of the immense good that could bring in tackling the world’s biggest issues.”
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.
Want to do even more? Why not take the 2.6 Challenge!