DeborahGibbins COO Mary Kay Inc resized scaled
DeborahGibbins COO Mary Kay Inc resized scaled
News Briefs

Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator Partners With Commonwealth to Drive Change in 54 Countries

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator (WEA), a strategic multi-partnership convening five UN agencies and Mary Kay Inc., is joining forces with the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network (CBWN). They will empower and support underserved women entrepreneurs across the 54 countries of the Commonwealth.

WEA maximizes the development and impact of women’s entrepreneurship. It works to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by creating an enabling ecosystem for women entrepreneurs that fosters growth, sustainability and resilience. In June 2021, WEA joined the Generation Equality Forum in Paris. The Accelerator committed to empowering five million women around the world by 2030 to accelerate progress for gender equality.

New initiatives

WEA recently announced the launch of a series of impactful initiatives and knowledge products, all shaped through a gender lens. This is the joint outcome of a collaboration between the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), UN Global Compact (UNGC), UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women with the strategic support and funding of Mary Kay. WEA’s impact work includes digital capacity building tools and training; entrepreneurship research; and gender-responsive procurement (GRP) advocacy and training.

More on the Commonwealth

CBWN works with women in business by connecting governments and the private sector. This encourages, enables and embeds women’s economic empowerment and women in leadership. Originating in May 2021, the Commonwealth Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator (CWEA) is a strategic multi-stakeholder partnership from the CBWN, the Global Entrepreneurship Network UK (GEN UK) and Oxentia.

It is a direct response to three developments:

  • The agreement by all Commonwealth Heads of Government in London in 2018 “to work towards an increase in the number and enhancement of the success rate of women-owned businesses, break down gender barriers in all sectors, and increase opportunities for women to trade internationally”
  • The recognition by the G20 in 2020 that “there is a missed opportunity – to tackle the gap that needs immediate action, which is the representation of women in emerging fields”
  • The UN Global Acceleration Plan to advance gender equality by 2026 and its Action Coalitions on Economic Justice and Rights and Technology and Innovation launched in 2021

Benefits of the partnership

The new partnership with CBWN in support of CWEA further solidifies WEA’s geographic scope of action. It spans across 54 Commonwealth diverse country members in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific, with 32 countries classified as small states. Small states are especially vulnerable to climate change and developmental challenges including gender inequalities.

Beyond scaling WEA and CBWN’s foundational areas of work, the partnership will also significantly focus on policy and advocacy. This will advance systemic change by engaging Commonwealth member states and leveraging its networks of organizations and key stakeholders in support of women in business or aspiring women entrepreneurs in and across the Commonwealth.

“We know that multi-stakeholder partnerships and collective engagement is crucial to driving the change that women entrepreneurs need across sectors around the world,” said Deborah Gibbins, Chief Operating Officer of Mary Kay Inc. “WEA is thrilled to join forces with the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network and the Commonwealth Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator. Our collaboration will focus on augmenting, amplifying and accelerating impact. We’re more powerful together, and I look forward to our collective action journey in support of the SDGs.”

“The Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network is delighted to partner with the United Nations Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator. This landmark initiative will unlock and unleash the power and potential for more women of diverse backgrounds,” said Freda Miriklis, Chair, Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network. “Through this partnership, we’ll be able to more quickly harness our collective assets. These communities will be inspired by their stories.”

Read about 7 accelerators and other money resources for female entrepreneurs.

About the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator (WEA) is a multi-partnership initiative on women’s entrepreneurship. It involves 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 5 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 more at we-accelerate.

About the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network

The Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network (CBWN) works with women in business by connecting governments and the private sector to encourage, enable and embed women’s economic empowerment. The network delivers activities, initiatives, products, and services focused on trade, talent and training. It is the only accredited organization focused on women’s economic empowerment. 54 governments across six continents formally recognized the initiative. Learn more at

About the Commonwealth Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator

The Commonwealth Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator is a strategic multi-stakeholder partnership on women’s entrepreneurship. Participants of the inaugural Commonwealth Women’s Entrepreneurship Summit (CWES) established the partnership in May 2021. This was the first global event to focus on women in emerging tech sectors. CWES was convened by the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network, the Global Entrepreneurship Network; the UK Government (Women in Innovation Network, a program of Innovation UK) and Africa’s largest network of women entrepreneurs (AWEP: African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program). The Commonwealth Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator is a partnership between the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network, Global Entrepreneurship Network-UK and Oxentia. Learn more at

About Mary Kay

One of the original glass ceiling breakers, Mary Kay Ash founded her beauty company more than 58 years ago. She had three goals: develop rewarding opportunities for women, offer irresistible products and make the world a better place. That dream has blossomed into a multibillion-dollar company with millions of independent sales force members in nearly 40 countries. Mary Kay invests in the science behind beauty and manufacturing cutting-edge skincare, color cosmetics, nutritional supplements and fragrances. The company is committed to empowering women and their families. It partners with organizations from around the world. Mary Kay focuses on supporting cancer research, protecting survivors from domestic abuse, beautifying our communities and encouraging children to follow their dreams. Mary Kay Ash’s original vision continues to shine – one lipstick at a time. Learn more at

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