Mexico City, 25 April, 2018
Be School and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women are hosting a special event to celebrate the graduation of 500 women entrepreneurs from the first phase of the Road to Growth business training program in Mexico.
Developed with the support of the ExxonMobil Foundation, the Road to Growth program aims to build the management and financial literacy skills of women owners of small businesses in Mexico. The initiative is delivered through a partnership with leading Mexican e-learning business school, Be School.
Research shows that closing the gender gap in economic activity in Mexico could boost national GDP by 43% ($810 billion) by 2025. A study conducted prior to the launch of the program found that 70% of women-led small and growing businesses (SGBS) in Mexico seek financing, but that few banks offer products suitable for women-led start-ups. It also revealed that at least 97% of women leading SGBs want to participate in some form of training, mentoring, leadership or networking program.
Between January and April 2018, the Road to Growth initiative empowered 500 women entrepreneurs with financial literacy and business skills to help them grow their businesses. During this phase, these 500 women created personalized growth plans and attended work sessions with experts from different business areas. The program was delivered via a ‘blended learning’ approach, which combined in-person and online classes, allowing more flexibility for the entrepreneurs’ busy schedules.
One hundred of the entrepreneurs will go on to attend the second phase of this program, which will give them greater access to new markets and financial institutions. The 100 selected entrepreneurs will be announced during the first week of May, and will receive intensive support over the following six months, including further training, personalised mentoring sessions and the opportunity to pitch to potential partners and investors.
The first phase ends with today’s graduation ceremony that featured speeches from Claudia Calvin, Former Executive Director of the Mexican Council of Foreign Relations and Founder of Mujeres Construyendo, Emma Cochrane, ExxonMobil Vice President Gas & Power Marketing, and Helen McEachern, CEO of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.
The event also will include a panel discussion on “How to make the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Mexico work for women,” with contributions from Tonatiuh Salinas, General Director of Entrepreneurial Bank, NAFIN, Cecilia de la Macorra, Americas Director, International Government Relations at Exxon Mobil Corporation and Aída Cerda Cristerna, Gender Equity Director of INMUJERES.
“Training so many women through knowledge and mentorship is a big milestone for the entrepreneurial ecosystem; it closes the gender gap and drives more Mexican women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential,” said Moís Cherem, CEO of Be School.
Helen McEachern, CEO of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, said, “It is amazing to see the energy and entrepreneurialism of the women taking part in our Road to Growth program. These women are change-makers and role models for countless others in Mexico, and beyond.”
Kevin Murphy, President of the ExxonMobil Foundation, said, “Research shows that boosting women’s participation in the economy is critical to accelerating global development and spurring economic progress. The ExxonMobil Foundation is proud to support an initiative that will increase financial literacy and access for women business owners in Mexico.”
Road to Growth has already shown its effectiveness in other parts of the world. The initiative was successfully piloted with 500 women business owners in Nigeria in 2015-16, also with support from the ExxonMobil Foundation. Ninety-nine per cent of women said they felt they had a clearer vision and direction for their business as a result of the program, while their businesses experienced an average increase in revenue of 8% and an average increase in profits of 31%. Read more about the pilot here.
For more information, visit R2GMexico.org.