Women entrepreneurs operating micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in developing and emerging markets face multiple barriers. While women’s entrepreneurship is on the rise globally, many women lack the confidence, access to capital, skills and networks to take their small businesses to the next level.

Road to Women’s Business Growth is a collaborative venture developed in partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation, designed to build the business skills and financial literacy of women entrepreneurs.

The project uses a ‘blended learning’ approach, which combines in-class training with a unique, custom-built online learning tool. The in-class training enables women to benefit from networking opportunities and peer-to-peer learning, while the e-modules are accessible via tablets, allowing women to learn at their own pace and convenience.

Read on to find out more about Road to Women’s Business Growth in Nigeria and Mexico.

‘The Road to Growth model we have developed with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women harnesses the skills of a diverse range of experts to empower women entrepreneurs to realise their full potential. The ‘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, Executive Director of the ExxonMobil Foundation

Road to Women’s Business Growth Nigeria
Partners: Enterprise Development Centre / Emerging360

Road to Women’s Business Growth was first launched at the end of 2015 in the Nigerian cities of Lagos, Abuja and Uyo, and came to a close in October 2016. During that time, 500 women business owners completed the training programme. In addition, 100 of these women entrepreneurs also received intensive business support, including workshops, mentoring, and linkages to financial services, investment and markets.

Since taking part in the project:

  • 99% of women said they felt they had a clearer vision and direction for their business as a result of the programme
  • 92% of participants feel more confident speaking with lenders and 85% feel motivated to apply the skills they learned on reviewing and negotiating a loan agreement
  • The women’s businesses have grown, 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.

Find out about the ambitions and achievements of some of the Road to Women’s Business Growth participants in these short films.

View more results of the project

Road to Women’s Business Growth Mexico
Partners: Bedu / Emerging360

Following the success of Road to Women’s Business Growth in Nigeria and thanks to further support from the ExxonMobil Foundation, we launched Road to Growth in Mexico in January 2018.

The first phase of the project provided six weeks of support to 500 women entrepreneurs, focusing on business management and investment readiness, support with developing a growth plan and mentoring support from industry and business experts. The project was delivered using our custom built ‘blended learning’ curriculum.

100 of these entrepreneurs went on to receive intensive business support over the following six months, including extended training, personalised mentoring sessions and the opportunity to pitch to potential partners and investors.

To find out more about the entrepreneurial ecosystem for women entrepreneurs in Mexico, take a look at our report and infographic: ‘Understanding how to unleash the untapped potential of women entrepreneurs in Mexico’.

To find out more about the programme, visit the Road to Growth Mexico website.



Founded in 2016, Bedu is a non-conventional business school committed to teaching the business skills needed to launch, operate and develop successful businesses. Bedu combines online learning with in person classroom sessions and personalized coaching to make sure every student has both the flexibility and personalized attention they need to thrive. Bedu’s programs are created by education and business experts, delivering state of the art content. The courses include training, mentoring, industry experts and networking events with key players in Mexico’s entrepreneurial community.

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.

Established 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.

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 more than $120 million to help community-based and global partners implement programs directly benefiting tens of thousands of women in over 90 countries.

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