Live from New York: Good news for women entrepreneurs

Maasai women in Kenya sell bracelets, necklaces and other things made out of bead. A partnership initiative between the U.N. Global Compact and U.N. Women provides a roadmap for how companies can empower women in markets, at work and in communities. Photo by: Georgina Goodwin / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

This is a week full of conversations, conferences and announcements about the role of women in development in the lead-up to International Women’s Day on Saturday.

Devex has been in New York attending several events and listening to the key voices of women tackling issues like health, economic empowerment and leadership.

On Wednesday, Joni Simpson, a global coordinator and specialist on women’s entrepreneurship at the International Labor Organization, encouraged businesses to reach out to and partner with the U.N. agency on incorporating women entrepreneurs in their supply chains.

The ILO has networks it can tap, a standard business model and can help train and support projects particularly in East Africa and Morocco, Simpson said at the sixth annual Women’s Economic Principles event.


Women’s Economic Principles, or WEPs as many call it, is a partnership initiative between the U.N. Global Compact and U.N. Women. More than 670 CEOs have signed onto WEPs, which provides a roadmap for how companies can empower women in markets, at work and in communities.

Wednesday’s meetings highlighted several partnerships that can serve as models and platforms for future work.

One example was the Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors, which U.N. Women will be joining on Thursday, according to Meg Jones, a senior officer for MDGs for the International Trade Center, which helped establish the platform.

Freda Miriklis, president of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, also a key partner in the platform, made an impassioned plea for action — for moving beyond making commitments and to implementing them.

New facility for women entrepreneurs

Speaking of announcements, the International Finance Corp. and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program launched a new Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility on Wednesday.

The facility will be dedicated to financing women-owned SMEs in developing countries, and is expected to increase access to finance to women entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

With IFC providing $100 million and the Goldman Sachs Foundation another $32 million, the program expects to raise an additional $468 million from public and private sources.

IFC research has shown that women-owned business have to deal with a roughly $300 billion credit gap worldwide — which the facility seeks to address by offering women lines of credit in partnership with local banks, as well as training and advice.

More to come

Earlier this week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center and the United Nations Office of Partnerships brought together top corporate, NGO and donor agency leaders for discussions about how the private sector can best empower women.

The event gave Devex Impact an opportunity to sit down with a host of key figures, from Melanne Verveer to leaders from Coca-Cola, Intel and more.

Those interviews will be featured over the next month as part of our #SheBuilds campaign, which launches Saturday to change the conversation around women and girls from recipient to actor, and will highlight the many ways in which women and girls are agents of change and a positive force for global development.

Stay tuned.

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About the author

  • Adva Saldinger

    Adva Saldinger is an Associate Editor at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.