by Noa Meyer, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs Office of Corporate Engagement and global head of the 10,000 Women program
It has been fifteen years since Goldman Sachs’ Kathy Matsui first wrote about "womenomics" and quantified the significant economic benefit of empowering women. Matsui and her team first advocated in 1999 that Japan could increase its gross domestic product by as much as 15% by tapping the potential of an underutilized resource, Japanese women. Since then, public and private sector leaders around the world have increasingly invested in empowering women economically not just because it is the right thing to do, but to boost long term economic growth. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently demonstrated this seismic shift by making womenomics the cornerstone of his policies to accelerate the Japanese economy.
Womenomics became the impetus behind one of Goldman Sachs’ most powerful investments, 10,000 Women. 10,000 Women put the concept of womenomics into practice by building the skills of women entrepreneurs, an underutilized asset with the potential to contribute significantly to job creation and economic growth in their countries.
Today we are proud to have reached our goal of providing 10,000 women around the world with business and management education, mentoring and networking. For everyone at Goldman Sachs involved in 10,000 Women, it is not just about the numbers. We have been moved by the transformation the women have experienced because of the know-how and confidence they gained through the program.
The overwhelming majority of 10,000 Women graduates have expanded their businesses dramatically. On average, they have increased their revenues nearly five-fold and doubled the size of their workforces. Equally important, 90% of graduates are mentoring other women, multiplying the impact of our investment throughout their local economies.
10,000 Women has demonstrated that education plays a critical role in helping women grow their businesses, but it is just the beginning. In order for women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to reach their full potential they need capital.
Recently, Goldman Sachs further deepened its commitment to women entrepreneurs through a new partnership with International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, to create the first-ever global finance facility dedicated exclusively to women-owned SMEs. The Goldman Sachs Foundation, IFC, and other investors will invest up to $600 million for the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility, which will enable approximately 100,000 women entrepreneurs to access capital. Our hope is that the Facility will demonstrate to banks around the world what powerful investments women are and increase overall lending to women globally.
Women-owned SMEs have long been overlooked by local financial institutions and global investors. IFC identified a global capital gap of around $285 billion for women entrepreneurs. According to recently released Goldman Sachs research, closing this gap in the BRIC and N-11 countries could increase per capita income by up to 12% by 2030 in those countries.
The significance of closing this gap is demonstrated by Gircilene Gilca de Castro, who operates a food service company in Brazil. Since childhood, Gircilene wanted to own her own business but struggled to get started and had only two employees and one client when she enrolled in 10,000 Women. Gircilene’s participation in 10,000 Women changed the growth trajectory of her business and gave her confidence to apply for capital. Armed for the first time with a business strategy, Gircilene successfully applied for two loans to purchase new equipment, upgrade her facility and hire staff. As a result of the combination of capital and business and management education, her business revenue has increased by 900% and she now has 45 employees, most of whom are women.
10,000 Women has proven 10,000 times over that womenomics works and women are the smartest investment we can make. When women grow their businesses, the benefits reverberate throughout the global economy. Now, by combining business and management education and the capital our new partnership will catalyze, we have a much greater chance of helping more women succeed.