In response to the challenges facing women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries as a result of COVID-19, and the accompanying needs, we’re making 24 ‘Business Bootcamp’ training webinars, previously developed with our partner Accenture for our Skilling for Change programme, open-access and available for free on our website here.

Many women are struggling to keep their businesses afloat in these difficult times, and lack the support they need to adapt and sustain their businesses. This stands to have severe knock-on effects on their families, communities and economies. Our recent survey of the women in our programmes paints a challenging picture of the landscape and depth of need.

Thanks to tech, we’re able to take action and meet this need. We’re releasing this expert online training series to enable women across the globe to rapidly access resources from home. This will not only help them to start, grow and safeguard businesses, and by extension support their families and communities, but also help ensure women can contribute to a worldwide post-pandemic rebuild.

The Business Bootcamp series comprises 24 pre-recorded webinars, each around 45 minutes to an hour long, and aims to increase women entrepreneurs’ business skills, financial literacy and knowledge on growth and investment options. Each webinar is geared around a topic like understanding business models and registration formalities, accounting and book-keeping, financial services, assessing  business health, costing and pricing, managing credit and debit, and – crucially for the current era – planning for ups and downs.

These resources were originally developed for the Foundation’s Skilling for Change programme in Rwanda, delivered with Accenture and CARE International. It used digital technology to support over 16,000 women to turn their micro enterprises into profitable and sustainable businesses.

Through the project, over 14,000 businesses were either established or grown and over 3,000 new jobs were created. Over 4,000 women gained access to formal finance and 91% saw an increase in profit. Overall, the financial situation of the women improved by 110%.

While these concrete results by themselves illustrate the positive effects that this webinar series stands to have, the scope of the impact does not stop there. Research the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women co-published with Boston Consulting Group last year shows that closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship would see global GDP rise by up to $5 trillion. Now, during a worldwide economic crisis, the need for such tremendous benefit is felt more heavily than ever.

Opening these Business Bootcamp resources up to more users around the world forms part of our recently-launched 100,000 Women Campaign, which aims to help close this gap. Over three years, it will see the Foundation directly support over 100,000 more women entrepreneurs in low and middle-income countries and, through advocacy, work to create a more enabling global business ecosystem for women. This in turn will empower them to create better futures for themselves, their families, their communities and the world.

Since 2008, we’ve directly supported over 160,000 women to grow and strengthen their businesses, and in turn support their families and communities. Now, our ambitions are growing, and you can help us achieve them: donate to our 100,000 Women Campaign today, so we can reach another 100,000 women by 2022!

Are you a woman entrepreneur in a low or middle income country who’s also concerned about getting her business through the pandemic? We’ve also just launched a free, online business resilience training course — join today!

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Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services in strategy and consulting, interactive, technology and operations, with digital capabilities across all of these services. We combine unmatched experience and specialized capabilities across more than 40 industries — powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. With 513,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture brings continuous innovation to help clients improve their performance and create lasting value across their enterprises. Visit us at www.accenture.com.

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