Opportunity & Access

Nonprofit Initiative Mentors Women Entrepreneurs In Emerging Markets

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program is helping women in 22 countries in the developing world start and grow businesses.

April 20, 2011

| by Michele Chandler

Ayodeji, a woman in Nigeria, runs a small catering operation out of her home. To expand and thrive, she needs business expertise and access to capital.



Dina Habib Powell

Enter the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program, launched three years ago. The global financial services firm started the nonprofit initiative to provide business and management education, links to capital, and professional mentoring for up-and-coming women entrepreneurs around the globe.

After completing the rigorous training program, Ayodeji — one of the first graduates — has become successful enough to move into a commercial kitchen, buy a delivery van, and hire 25 new people.

That’s just one success story from the 10,000 Women program recounted during a recent talk at Stanford Graduate School of Business by Dina Habib Powell, who is overseeing the effort. Powell, managing director and president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, spoke about how the program is changing lives during her speech on April 13 before the MBA Women in Management club.

“Through 10,000 Women, we’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of women who are extraordinary leaders in business and in their communities,” Powell said. “They demonstrate the unique potential that women offer in emerging markets and throughout the world.”

Since its start three years ago, more than 3,500 women have participated in the 10,000 Women program, which now operates in 22 countries. The $100 million initiative is on track to meet its target of teaching business skills and providing connections to capital to 10,000 women in the developing world over the 5-year life of the program.

The program selects and trains women entrepreneurs who already have companies in place but need to learn how to develop polished business plans and gain capital to grow their small and medium-sized companies. During the program, the women learn accounting, marketing, human resource management, and finance from local universities and business mentors in their communities.

After completing the program, 70% of the women increased their revenues, Powell said, while half had created new jobs: “We realized there was enormous opportunity in finding those owners in emerging economies, equipping them with business and management education, mentoring from people in our firm and the local community, and linking them to capital.”

The program operates through a network of more than 70 academic and nonprofit partners. The Stanford Graduate School of Business worked in partnership with 10,000 Women to develop 8 case studies focused on entrepreneurship in developing and emerging economies. Cases focus on enterprises in Ghana, Kenya, Lebanon, South Africa, and India, and the organizations Kiva and Endeavor.

In addition to expertise provided by universities and local organizations within the countries served, 10,000 Women creates partnerships with the public and nonprofit sectors, including the Inter-American Development Bank and the U.S. Department of State, to reach candidates. The program draws thousands of applications each year and has a 14% admission rate. Hundreds of Goldman Sachs employees have offered to participate by reviewing business plans and loan applications from women around the world, Powell said.

The 10,000 Women program has been so successful that Goldman Sachs brought the concept home to the United States.

In 2009, Goldman Sachs launched 10,000 Small Businesses, an effort that partners with community colleges and others to provide business owners in underserved areas of 5 U.S. cities to date with mentors, access to capital, and business and management education.

So far, 200 entrepreneurs are involved in that program, now operating in and New York, Los Angeles, Long Beach, New Orleans and Houston.

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