New York, United States:
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator (WEA), a strategic multi-partnership initiative established by five UN agencies and Mary Kay Inc., is today celebrating its second-year anniversary by announcing progress on several programmes designed to impact 5 million women around the world by 2030. The programmes and knowledge products, which further demonstrate WEA’s commitment to maximizing the development impact of women’s entrepreneurship in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 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 as 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 programmes, all shaped with a unique focus on gender, are the joint outcome of the 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.
- Digital Capacity Building Tools & Training
In collaboration with ITC SheTrades, the Accelerator will offer a guided curriculum supplemented by on-the-ground training for 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 aims to teach women entrepreneurs the skills to design and set up businesses that have potential to be economically viable. Through 27 interactive modules covering seven key stages of business development and enriched with 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 Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator ITC SheTrades curriculum will be gradually released between October and December 2021 in English, Spanish, and French, with Arabic, Russian and Mandarin coming in 2022. It will be accessible on the Accelerator website and directly on the ITC SheTrades virtual learning space and mobile app starting October 2021.
- Entrepreneurship Research
As part of WEA’s objectives 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 an assessment on framework conditions that impact women’s entrepreneurship development.
The study is sector specific to trade and industry in Mexico City and touches upon the impact of COVID-19. The assessment includes a series of actionable recommendations for a more conducive environment, developed in close collaboration with national partners, including 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, to advocate for women’s entrepreneurship development and foster dialogue based on the findings of a WED Assessment conducted in the framework of the EU-funded Win-Win project. A programme of national and regional conferences, seminars, trainings, and communication campaigns has been put together to generate and consolidate momentum in favor of women’s entrepreneurship development.
- Gender-Responsive Procurement (GRP) Advocacy and Training
Gender-responsive procurement (GRP) can have a transformational impact on domestic and international economies and contribute to women’s economic empowerment. Globally, one in three small, medium, and large businesses are owned by women1, yet women win only 1% of the procurement spend of large corporations and governments2.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator participated in the Generation Equality Forum in Paris (June 30-July 2) through the “Drivers of Change” Programming, hosting a panel titled “Building a Transformative Strategy for Gender-Responsive Procurement,” which aimed to create awareness around the complex and interconnected barriers of women’s entrepreneurship and to promote GRP.
UN Women’s main contributions to the Accelerator’s GRP line of work in 2021 include establishing the Business Case for GRP through the launch of a community of practice (CoP) in July 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 then interviewing more than 50 companies and organizations, which, together with the survey responses, 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, and will be a contribution to WEA in support of UN Women’s Flagship Programme Initiative “Stimulating Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs.”
In December, UN Women Europe and Central Asia (ECA) will launch an inaugural Pilot programme to increase the capacities of both women entrepreneurs and private sector with an aim to boost women’s entrepreneurship: (1) Building procurement capacities of women entrepreneurs to compete for bidding opportunities with public and private sectors; (2) Strengthening capacities of the private sector entities from all the sectors to establish policies and practices and design initiatives on gender responsive procurement and investment.
The Accelerator’s announcement of these programmes’ milestones is just the latest in a series of steps taken by the multi-partnership to raise awareness on entrepreneurship as a critical lever to advance women’s equality in 2021 and beyond.
At the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, the Accelerator announced its commitment to empower 5 million women by the end of 2030 and to build an ecosystem for women’s economic empowerment that fosters growth, sustainability, and resilience for women entrepreneurs.
On September 28th, the Accelerator will hold a virtual event titled “Joining Forces to Drive Change,” convening the senior management of ILO, ITC, UNDP, UNGC, and UN Women with introductory remarks from Mary Kay. Organized during UNGA 76 for WEA’s 2nd anniversary, the high-level event will provide an opportunity for the stakeholders within the women’s entrepreneurship ecosystem to hear from the leading experts on the following topics: gender equality and women’s empowerment, the economic and social contributions of women entrepreneurship; emerging policies and practices that could be applied and replicated globally to support women’s leadership in businesses. For registration and other enquiries click here.
To learn more about the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator, and the work performed since its inception two years ago, visit we-accelerate.com.