The global five-year program, "10,000 Women," aims to harness the power of women entrepreneurs to foster economic growth by teaching them how to become stronger businesswomen. Launched by Goldman Sachs in March 2008, the program’s goal is to provide 10,000 women who run small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with high-quality business and management skills training.
Despite the enormous potential of these women to help grow economies in developing countries, research shows that they often have little access to business or management training and entrepreneurial networks. In an attempt to fill this critical gap, 10,000 Women invests in women in the SME sector who belong to what is often referred to as the “missing middle.”
Has it made a difference in women’s lives? Has it borne broader benefits for the communities where they live and work?
The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) set out to find out. Our researchers just completed the first independent evaluation of the 10,000 Women program, which focused on results in India. It shows that the program — in combination with a number of other factors — is making a difference there.
ICRW President Sarah Degnan Kambou will release the report, "Catalyzing Growth in the Women-run Small and Medium Enterprise Sector (SMEs)," and discuss its findings during a March 1 Council on Foreign Relations event in New York. Goldman Sachs and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer will be among the attendees.
ICRW found strong evidence that the 10,000 Women program in India contributed to improving women’s business practices and skills. For many of the program's participants, these newfound skills seem to have played a critical role in strengthening their businesses’ performance. For example, half of the program’s "graduates" who reported data, said that they had doubled their revenues in an 18-month period. They also reported feeling more confident as entrepreneurs, which they say has resulted in other positive outcomes within their families and communities.
ICRW's evaluation does not reflect the overall performance of the 10,000 Women program, which is up and running in countries as diverse as Afghanistan, China, Egypt and Rwanda. However, it does provide an initial glimpse at the program's potential to make a difference in 10,000 businesswomen’s lives – and the lives around them.