Entrepreneurship is everywhere. Whether in Silicon Valley, Brooklyn, or in Istanbul, men and women from all backgrounds are turning their ideas into startups. In doing so they’re doing a variety of different things – creating jobs, generating wealth, solving problems, and changing the ratio. We sat down with Noa Meyer, the global head of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 women program, to discuss how they’re supporting women around the world to do just that.
Noa, a Vassar grad, joined Goldman Sachs in 2007 as an associate and was named managing director in 2013. Before that, Noa held several positions in the Clinton Administration, first in the speechwriting office of First Lady Hillary Clinton (holla!) and then at the United States Agency for International Development, focused on political development in the Balkans and East Timor.
FPI: The project that you oversee, 10,000 Women, just published a report about supporting female entrepreneurs worldwide. Could you summarize some of the findings?
“Investing in the Power of Women,” Babson College’s independent assessment of the 10,000 Women initiative, shows the significant impact the business and management training has had on the graduates as well as their communities. In analyzing over 6,000 surveys from program graduates, Babson found that the program helped spur business growth. Within 18 months of graduating, over 68% of the women increased revenues, while over 57% added new jobs.
Graduates have not only felt compelled to utilize their new skills to develop their businesses, they are invested in increasing the opportunities available to others in their communities. With nine out of ten graduates reporting that they are mentoring other women, we are proud that our work has extended beyond the women who have directly participated in the program.
FPI: 10,000 Women launched in 2008, with the aim of educating female entrepreneurs in emerging markets – why is this important?
10,000 Women is founded on research that demonstrates the impact of women’s participation in both local and global economies. There is a growing body of research from the World Bank, Goldman Sachs and others that shows the impact of gender equality on a country’s development and the role educating and empowering women plays in lifting GDP in emerging markets. As women reinvest their gains into their families and communities, children are healthier, homes are more stable and communities are more vibrant.
Over the past several years, the firm’s Global Markets Institute has built the case for supporting women’s economic empowerment through reports like “The Power of the Purse” and “Womenomics.” Our research has consistently highlighted the role that educating and empowering women plays in growing GDP in emerging markets. As a firm committed to increasing opportunities for economic growth, we understood that our efforts would be most impactful by focusing on supporting the growth of women-owned SMEs.
FPI: The report notes that some countries such as Taiwan, Korea, Chile, and Ireland have some sort of government program focused on female entrepreneurs. Are female entrepreneurs in these countries more successful than those where the government does not have any program or policy to support female entrepreneurship? Are there policies or programs that governments, including the U.S., should have to support female entrepreneurs?
Institutional barriers, including discriminatory property rights and lack of access to financial services, continue to inhibit women entrepreneurs from reaching their full potential. Government efforts to reduce these barriers and create conditions that benefit women business owners are necessary to reduce the inequalities faced by women entrepreneurs and build systems that promote full female inclusion in the economy. In addition to the public sector’s efforts, the respective resources of the private sector and nonprofits are paramount in creating successful interventions to support women’s full participation in the global economy.
FPI: Could you tell us some of the highlights of the 10,000 Women project? Could you tell us about some of the women who participated?
10,000 Women began as a global initiative to foster economic growth by providing 10,000 women around the world with a business and management education and access to networking and mentoring. Through a network of 90 academic and nonprofit partners, we are proud to have achieved our goal of supporting 10,000 women.
Women from across 43 countries, including countries as diverse as Brazil, Nigeria and China have participated in the program. With participants leading businesses in industries ranging from manufacturing to retail services and the textiles and clothing industry, the entrepreneurs in the program represent the diversity of enterprises run by women around the world.
One of our graduates, Gircilene Gilca de Castro from Brazil, applied to participate in 10,000 Women in an effort to revitalize her struggling business. Since graduating, her business, Alimex Soluções em Alimentação Ltda, has seen incredible growth. Her business’ revenue has increased by 900% and she has hired over 40 new employees, most of which are women.
FPI: What did you learn from the program? What are the key take-aways?
In implementing the program over the past six years, we have observed that women entrepreneurs continue to face obstacles when seeking capital to grow their businesses. International Finance Corporation has found that 70 percent of women-owned SMEs in developing countries are unserved or underserved by finance institutions, resulting in a global credit gap of around $285 billion for women entrepreneurs.
As we continue our efforts to support women-owned SMEs in emerging markets, we are committed to building opportunities to resolve the issues women entrepreneurs face in accessing capital.
In March, 10,000 Women and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, launched the first-ever global finance facility for women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises. The Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility will raise up to $600 million to enable approximately 100,000 women entrepreneurs to access capital.
FPI: Any parting thoughts?
We are excited by the opportunity to address one of the most significant challenges facing entrepreneurs, especially women. We hope to continue to benefit women business owners through our efforts to increase their access to capital and demonstrate to banks around the world the transformative power of investing in women.