2014 was a landmark year for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women – the culmination of five years spent delivering life-changing support to women entrepreneurs in developing countries.
One of the women we reached was Iil, a catering business owner in Indonesia. After using our Business Women mobile service to receive vital business training and support, Iil told us, “From the app I found out that women can get a loan from a bank. It gave me the feeling that women are equal with men in terms of building a business.”
Words like this inspire me to continue reaching out to even more women, helping them to realise their potential and fulfil their ambitions.
Since the Foundation was established in 2008, we have grown from one project and two employees to a leading organisation in the field of women’s economic empowerment. We have touched the lives of more than 113,000 women entrepreneurs in over 70 countries. We have established over 100 partnerships globally to deliver targeted support to women entrepreneurs through collaboration with governments, the private sector and NGOs.
I am incredibly proud of these achievements. And, as the new year dawns, I am excited to look ahead to the next five years – to the challenges and opportunities that face us in our efforts to elevate women’s economic empowerment to even greater heights.
Innovation, partnerships and technology are at the heart of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and these will continue to anchor everything we do. Building on the lessons we have learned over the past five years, we will continue to develop ‘tried and tested’ models of working that we know are capable of delivering powerful results – whilst also seeking new approaches to fostering female entrepreneurship. We remain committed to using technology in innovative ways, to deliver resources and support to women on a large scale. Above all, we will continue to leverage the skills, support and expertise of partner organisations so that we can expand our reach and deepen our impact even further.
2015 will be an exciting year for all those working on the issue of women’s economic empowerment. As the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals fast approaches, the world is engaged in debate over what form the next set of development goals should take. Financial inclusion is emerging as a strong theme – and, indeed, this will be a key priority for the work of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women over the next five years.
Approximately 2.5 billion people across the world do not have a bank account, the majority of whom are women. This means that, all too often, female entrepreneurs cannot access basic financial services – such as savings, bank loans or credit – which are critical to fuelling the growth of their businesses.
This is a huge challenge, but one we must address if we are to unleash the full potential of female entrepreneurship.
Our vision over the next five years is to enhance women entrepreneurs’ financial skills, increase their access to financial services, and work with financial institutions – both global and local – to ensure that they provide access to vital services for business women. Our work on financial inclusion will be a crucial part of what we do and will cut across our three core programmes: Enterprise Development, Mobile Technology and Online Mentoring.
The next five years will be an opportunity to consolidate what we have learned, build on our successes and extend our work to new horizons. Our ultimate aim is to reach over 200,000 women entrepreneurs by the end of 2019. The voices of those women will stay at the core of our work, as we continue to listen to their stories and tailor our programmes to meet their needs. Together we will build a brighter future not only for female entrepreneurs, but for their families, their communities and their countries.