Women entrepreneurs operating micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in developing and emerging markets are chronically underserved financially. Research shows that women-owned entities represent over 30% of registered businesses worldwide, yet only 10% of women entrepreneurs have access to the capital needed to grow their businesses.

Road to Women’s Business Growth was a collaborative venture developed in partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation which was designed to build the business skills and financial literacy of women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. As part of the initiative, research was undertaken to assess the needs of women owners of small businesses in Nigeria. It identified a need to boost women’s skills in specific areas such as managing cash flow, undertaking market analysis, determining financial needs, choosing financial products and understanding loan processes and requirements.

The initiative was launched at the end of 2015 in Lagos, Abuja and Uyo, and came to a close in October 2016. In that time, 500 women business owners completed a training course which was delivered via an innovative ‘blended learning’ approach, which combined in-class training with a unique, custom-built online learning tool. The in-class training enabled women to benefit from networking opportunities and peer-to-peer learning, whilst the e-modules were accessible via tablets, allowing women to learn at their own pace and convenience.

In addition, 100 of these women entrepreneurs also received intensive business support, including workshops, mentoring, and linkages to financial services, investment, and markets.

40% of the women are now saving at a formal financial institution (an increase of 10%) and 38% are applying for bank loans, the success rate of which has increased by 6%. Women’s businesses in Nigeria are growing, generating an annual median revenue of approximately $19,000 (an increase of 7%) – an encouraging result in the context of the country’s ongoing economic recession.

View more results of the project.

“This unique project harnesses the skills of a diverse range of experts to empower women entrepreneurs in Nigeria to realise their full potential. This ‘blended learning approach’ will help set women on a road to growth, enabling them to expand their businesses, strengthen their financial security and drive development in their communities.”

– Jim Jones, Manager, Community Investments, ExxonMobil

The Road to Growth initiative will be rolled out to 500 women in Latin America in 2017, with further support from the ExxonMobil Foundation. As part of this expansion, we will be developing a series of e-modules that will be available to women worldwide.

Enterprise Development Projects



The ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Since 2005, the ExxonMobil Foundation has helped women in developing countries fulfil their economic potential and drive economic and social change in their communities. To date, it has invested nearly $100 million to help community-based and global partners implement programs directly benefiting tens of thousands of women in over 90 countries.


EDC websiteEstablished in 2003, the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) is an education centre that offers business development services to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), including training, advisory services, mentoring, experts-in-residence, network meetings, and access to markets and information. EDC’s clients include the World Bank Group, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Goldman Sachs and local small and medium enterprise banks in Nigeria.




emerging360logo website

Emerging360 is a boutique consultancy promoting sustainable development through ICT strategy, digital innovation, MSME capacity building, and blended, web, and mobile eLearning. The Emerging360 team has collaborated with the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC), and leading private, social, and public sector organisations on every major continent. Emerging360 is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area with teams in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

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