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Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator Announces Initiatives to Drive Change for Women Entrepreneurs

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator (WEA) is celebrating its second anniversary by announcing progress on several programs for female entrepreneurs. These programs aim to impact five million women around the world by 2030. The programs and knowledge products demonstrate WEA’s commitment to supporting the development impact of women’s entrepreneurship. They will be rolled out in the fourth quarter of this year.

“Two years ago, the Accelerator committed to enabling women entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. This is a means to accelerate progress towards women’s equality,” said Deborah Gibbins, Chief Operating Officer of Mary Kay Inc. “Today, we’re thrilled to report progress on that promise and demonstrate the unique impact five UN agencies and the private sector can have when working together. These programs represent concrete steps toward the systemic transformation needed to foster an environment of growth, sustainability, and resilience for women entrepreneurs.”

The strategic programs are all shaped with a unique focus on gender. They are from a collaboration between the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Trade Centre (ITC) UN Global Compact (UNGC), UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women. They also have the strategic support and funding of Mary Kay.

Digital capacity-building tools and training

In collaboration with ITC SheTrades, the Accelerator will offer a guided curriculum along with on-the-ground training for women. This curriculum will focus on women from developing countries interested in entrepreneurship and/or planning to integrate into regional and global value chains. The 2021 in-country training sessions will take place virtually in Brazil, Colombia, India and Mexico.

The online curriculum on entrepreneurship will teach women entrepreneurs the skills to design and set up businesses. It offers 27 interactive modules covering seven key stages of business development and over 200 videos. Participants will learn how to adopt an entrepreneurship culture, develop ideas through design thinking and lean start-up methodologies, prepare a business model canvas, design a pitch, identify sources of funding, find the right partners, arrange for mentorship, build a team and set up their businesses.

The curriculum is free for all users with no barrier to entry, and participants will receive a certificate upon completion.

The ITC SheTrades curriculum will be gradually released between October and December 2021. The program will be offered in English, Spanish and French, with Arabic, Russian and Mandarin coming in 2022. It will be accessible on the Accelerator website. It will also be on the ITC SheTrades virtual learning space and mobile app starting October 2021.

Entrepreneurship research

As part of WEA’s goals for 2020-2021, the ILO is focusing on strengthening advocacy for women’s entrepreneurship development in Mexico and Brazil. In Mexico, WEA and ILO will be releasing findings from a study on how framework conditions impact women’s entrepreneurship development.

The study is specific to trade and industry in Mexico City and touches upon the impact of COVID-19. It includes a series of recommendations for a more conducive environment. It was developed in close collaboration with national partners. This includes employers’ associations, chambers of commerce and associations of women entrepreneurs to ensure national ownership and sustainability.

In Brazil, through WEA, ILO is collaborating with SENAI, a national leader in technical and vocational training. They are advocating for women’s entrepreneurship development and fostering dialogue based on the findings of a WED Assessment conducted in the framework of the EU-funded Win-Win project. A program of national and regional conferences, seminars, trainings and communication campaigns were put together to generate momentum for women’s entrepreneurship development.

Advocacy and training

Gender-responsive procurement (GRP) can have a large impact on domestic and international economies. Overall, it contributes to women’s economic empowerment. Globally, one in three small, medium, and large businesses are owned by women. Yet women win only 1 percent of the procurement spend of large corporations and governments.

The WEA participated in the Generation Equality Forum in Paris through the “Drivers of Change” Programming. WEA hosted a panel titled “Building a Transformative Strategy for Gender-Responsive Procurement”. It aimed to create awareness around the complex barriers of women’s entrepreneurship and to promote GRP.

UN Women’s main contributions include establishing the Business Case for GRP through the launch of a community of practice in July. This was in collaboration with UN Global Compact to engage stakeholders from the private sector.

UN Women, with the support of the UN Global Compact, is also conducting a global survey across sectors on GRP. UN Women is interviewing more than 50 companies and organizations. This will result in case studies and an evidence-based advocacy tool to highlight the business case of GRP. The advocacy tool will be published by December 2021.

Launching new programs

In December, UN Women Europe and Central Asia will launch an inaugural pilot program to boost women’s entrepreneurship. It will build procurement options for women entrepreneurs and strengthen the ability of private sectors to establish policies, practices and design initiatives on gender-responsive procurement and investment.

These milestones are just the latest in a series of steps taken to raise awareness on entrepreneurship and advance women’s equality in 2021 and beyond.

At the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, the Accelerator announced its commitment to empowering five million women by the end of 2030. It aims to build an ecosystem for women’s economic empowerment that fosters growth, sustainability and resilience for women entrepreneurs.

On Sept. 28, the Accelerator held a virtual event titled “Joining Forces to Drive Change.” The event provided an opportunity for the stakeholders within the women’s entrepreneurship ecosystem to hear from the leading experts on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

About the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator (WEA) is a multi-partnership initiative on women’s entrepreneurship. It was established during UNGA 74 by five UN agencies, International Labour Organization (ILO), International Trade Centre (ITC), UN Global Compact (UNGC), UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and Mary Kay Inc. to empower five million women entrepreneurs by 2030.

The ultimate goal of the initiative is to maximize the development impact of women entrepreneurship in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by creating an enabling ecosystem for women entrepreneurs around the world. The Accelerator exemplifies the transformational power of a multi-partnership of unique magnitude to harness the potential of women entrepreneurs.

Learn How Online Learning Helps Career and Economic Progress for Women.