–Cross-posted from the Corporate Citizenship Center—
The Corporate Citizenship Award for Best Economic Empowerment Program recognizes work to empower individuals through financial inclusion and business empowerment initiatives. The 2015 finalists show the significant, positive impact businesses have around the world.
The United States Agency for International Development expressed the need to improve and speed up local capabilities of agricultural methods and food processing techniques in Africa. In response, DSM—working through Partners in Food Solutions—began sharing with food companies its knowledge and know-how in nutrition and food fortification. The goal of the Partnership is to find a way to make locally produced food products in Africa more nutritious and affordable, with a longer shelf life. The Partnership determined that the path to success was to address small and growing business owners (SGBs) as they purchase crops from farmers, produce, and sell food locally. The Partnership aggregates corporate know-how of micronutrient fortification, food safety, regulations, and packaging, and makes it available via a cloud-based online system to SGBs in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, and Senegal. Creating avenues for SGBs to manufacture foods that are high in quality and provide adequate nutrition to the local population falls within the core business strategy of DSM.
Sadly, the International Finance Corporation estimates that as many as 70% of women-owned small and medium size enterprises in developing countries are unserved or underserved by financial institutions—resulting in a credit gap of around $285 billion. 10,000 Women is a global initiative that fosters economic growth by providing women entrepreneurs around the world with a business and management education, mentoring, networking, and access to capital. Goldman’s 10,000 Women partnered with IFC to launch The Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility. It is the first-ever global finance facility focused exclusively on women-owned small and medium enterprises. It is also accompanied by a $600 million commitment from Goldman Sachs to encourage local banks in emerging markets to increase lending and enable up to 100,000 women to access capital globally. 10,000 Women graduates report immediate and sustained business growth. Eighteen months after completing the program, nearly 70% of surveyed graduates have increased their revenue, and nearly 60% have added new jobs. Since its launch, the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility has reached more than 25,000 women entrepreneurs and has made $180 million in committed investments with nine banks in nine countries.
Kate Spade & Company’s On Purpose program takes a direct approach when it comes to investing in women’s economic transformation. Kate Spade believes that when investments are made in trade-based initiatives for women in underrepresented communities, women’s lives improve at the community and household levels. The On Purpose program leverages Kate Spade & Company’s corporate value chain to build, train, and source from a new manufacturing partner. In turn, the new manufacturing partner provides direct employment for underrepresented women and access to social services lacking in their communities. For example, the first location for manufacturing the On Purpose label was Masoro, Rwanda, and the manufacturing partner is ADC. The On Purpose program successfully treats members of the value chain as partners and not beneficiaries. On Purpose has helped all members of the value chain see their roles and responsibilities in collectively building a program that generates positive social and economic returns.