The potential of women entrepreneurs remains largely untapped in developing and emerging markets, with many lacking access to financial services, skills and equal opportunities needed to be successful business owners. In developing countries, women own only around 30% of small businesses and as little as 17% of medium enterprises. Women are also three times more likely to operate within the informal economy.

The Enterprise Development Programme addresses these challenges by enhancing access to capital and markets, delivering tailored business training, and facilitating business registration. We focus on strengthening links with financial service providers who can invest in women’s businesses, providing women with tailored financial literacy and awareness training, coupled with access to different types of investment choices. We also work in partnership with banks, micro-finance institutions and investment funds to encourage them to realise women’s market potential and create tailored products and services for them.

We want to ensure long-term progress. Our packaged support equips women entrepreneurs with the tools to transition into small and growing businesses, enabling women like Frederica from Sierra Leone to increase her customer base by 30%, and Ikhlas from Palestine to link to potential investors. This results in higher income, job creation and a stronger voice for women in their communities. By improving women’s income and financial autonomy, we can ensure better health, education and security for them, their families and society as a whole. Our goal over the next three years is to extend our reach, transforming the lives of over 3,500 women entrepreneurs.

The Enterprise Development Programme has reached over 500 women entrepreneurs in the past year and over 2,200 in total since 2009 across nine different countries. This includes providing 80 women in Palestine and Lebanon with one-to-one business training, operating two business incubators supporting 63 women entrepreneurs and their businesses in Jerusalem, and enabling 59 women to access capital to grow their businesses.

Together with the African Foundation for Development, we have developed the first national business network for women entrepreneur in Sierra Leone, which has grown to a membership of over 700 women. We have also developed a project in Tanzania in partnership with the Tanzania Gatsby Trust and the ExxonMobil Foundation, which in its first year has already provided 61 women with management training.

We are in the process of scaling existing projects, as well as designing and launching new projects, such as our new partnership with Accenture in Rwanda where we aim to support 15,000 women entrepreneurs over two years.

We look for partners who share our vision of a world where women have equal opportunities to engage in business and the freedom to be economically and socially independent. By enabling women to fulfil their potential, we can help them to create a brighter future for themselves, their families and society as a whole. We invite you to work with us to drive the Enterprise Development Programme Forward.  Find out more about how you can get involved.