Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

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Investing in Female Entrepreneurs: The Impact of Goldman Sachs’ “10,000 Women”

by Isobel Coleman
March 1, 2012

Rosalie Mukangenzi (third from right), the owner of a flour milling business in Rwanda and graduate of the Goldman Sachs "10,000 Women" initiative, with her employees (Photo credit to Isobel Coleman).


Four years ago this month, Goldman Sachs invited me to attend the launch of 10,000 Women, a $100 million philanthropic initiative, which at the time, was the largest in Goldman’s history. The goal of the five year program is to provide business and management training to 10,000 underserved female entrepreneurs in developing countries. Why? Goldman’s own research (and that of many others) shows that female education is a driver of macroeconomic growth. Moreover, there was (and still very much is) a stark need to expand access to business education for women in emerging markets. When Goldman launched 10,000 Women, there were only 2,600 women attending MBA programs in all of Africa, a continent of 900 million people. Calestous Juma, a professor of international development at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, has estimated that if African women were given equal access as men to vocational training and technology, the continent’s economy would expand by at least 40 percent.

10,000 Women’s focus is very much on nurturing small and medium enterprises (SMEs), a sector of the economy with significant economic growth and employment potential. An interesting report from the International Finance Corporation notes that while there are  roughly “8 to 10 million formal women-owned SMEs in emerging markets (representing 31 to 38 percent of all SMEs in emerging markets), the average growth rate of women’s enterprises is significantly lower than the average growth rate for SMEs run by men.” The report identifies several factors that have hindered the growth of women-owned businesses, including: institutional and regulatory issues, lack of access to finance, relatively low rates of business education, risk aversion, concentration of women’s businesses in slower growth sectors, and the burden of household management responsibilities. 10,000 Women addresses each of these issues, teaching its graduates how to recognize and navigate their legal environment, how better to access loans, prepare business plans geared for higher growth, and juggle a business with their family life. While the program does not provide credit directly, it has formed several public-private partnerships to do so. In Liberia, it is working with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; in Tanzania with the Government of Denmark, CRDB Bank, and the U.S. State Department; in Peru with the Inter-American Development Bank and Mibanco.

From the start, Goldman has been serious about measuring impact. It has worked with The Bridgespan Group to establish a credible monitoring and evaluation system (M&E), and in 2011 engaged the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) to conduct an impact assessment of the program’s work in India. That evaluation, just concluded, finds that half of 10,000 Women graduates in India saw their revenues at least double in an 18-month period. Also, many graduates report that the program has given them confidence to engage in male-dominated sectors. The report acknowledges that 10,000 Women was not the only factor contributing to graduates’ success: after all, the program picks people who are determined to succeed, and the overall business environment in India is one of growth. But ICRW credits 10,000 Women with providing women entrepreneurs with the critical skills and tools they need to grow their businesses.

In 2010, I visited with several 10,000 Women graduates in Rwanda. While not all of them were successful, many of them had significantly grown their businesses after the program. Rosalie Mukangenzi, the owner of a successful flour mill, sticks out in my mind. Her husband died in the 1994 genocide, leaving her and her three children nothing. With a micro-loan, she started a charcoal business, but in 2008, she moved into milling flour since she thought it could be more profitable. Before the 10,000 Women program, she had only felt comfortable taking small loans, but after graduating, she had the skills and confidence to take on more debt to expand her business. She opened a retail store, hired more employees (when I visited her in 2010, she employed fourteen men and three women), and increased her sales four-fold. She has built a new home for her family, which she plans on using as collateral for her next loan application. “My dream is to own a big factory, one which can impact the social and economic development of Rwanda,” she told me. Of course, many successful entrepreneurs flourish without formal business training, but Rosalie and thousands of other women around the world have bigger ambitions, and more skills to meet them, thanks to 10,000 Women.

Post a Comment 10 Comments

  • Posted by Smita kelton shah

    Please can you send contact details for ‘10,000 Women’. We have conducted at least a thousand rural EDP workshops, (Entrepreneur Development Program) and have a large number of deserving women entrepreneurs that can benefit from this program.

  • Posted by Martha Kyamula

    Please avail the application details for women in developing counries. Thank you.

  • Posted by A. Chris

    I would like more information on how I can start a business.

  • Posted by pamela odongo

    I am also undergoing training in Nairobi Kenya. Thanks to the 10000 women program. I am learning a lot from the programe. I am doing my business plan at the moment and one thing I must say, I have developed a lot of confidence in myself and I see my business change in the next few months.

  • Posted by Okeke Gladys Ngozi

    I am grateful to God for the 10000 women initiative. your joy will know no bounds as you go on imparting women; who on their own will also go on to impart others. keep it up and God bless you richly.

  • Posted by Madgie Murray

    Soleil Micro is tailoring its brand of “Sunshine when you wish” specifically towards the need of women for energy self-reliance. We are passionate about providing mothers and their children safe and affordable light and cell phone charging.

    Every mother needs light and communications. As many people have personal cell phones and personal computers, Soleilmicro
    provides a Personal Energy Server™ so mothers can solar power lights and cell phone charging. This small solar collector and battery charger is so low cost that American homes can use them to replace emergency candles and flashlight. They are so affordable, durable and reliable that mother in developing countries can use them everyday to replace kerosene lamps.

    I need to get in this program please let me know what would be the process.


  • Posted by Ana Cecilia Mata

    I am one of the 10,000 women first graduate in Mexico, since I become part of the program I have see many changes in my business, more selfconfidence to face any circuntances. Thanks for making this program a wonderful experience for many womens around the world.

  • Posted by Aisha Mbaraka

    Please can i get the contact information about the ‘10000 women’, i want to establish a nutrition project for pregnant women and under five children but i dont know how to go about it. And the project will have large impact to women in a project area.

  • Posted by JireAbigail

    With d help of dis program(GoldmanSachs10000),women will nt only b useful in our society but wil be respected.
    I really love the way women are being treated nw, unlike b4 they were treated with lack of respect and sometime’s at of use(Useless).

  • Posted by Shirley C. Kais

    Thanks to CHF-Goldman Sachs 10k women entrepreneur program. My participation in the program has added values and great improvement to my business. I wish to have more of the training if the’s any training for graduates I will love to be a part once more and always. To all women entrepreneur please take advantage of the program if you have the opportunity it’s informative, educative and even more than a capacity builder.

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