Today, women entrepreneurs worldwide face significant barriers in accessing financial services. Research shows that women-owned entities represent more than 30 percent of registered businesses globally, but only 10 percent of women entrepreneurs have access to the capital they need. In Nigeria, just over 34 percent of women have access to a bank account. These barriers prevent women from growing their businesses and participating fully in the economy.
To address this gap, the ExxonMobil Foundation has partnered with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women to develop the Road to Women’s Business Growth initiative. This innovative program aims to build the business management and financial literacy skills of women entrepreneurs in Nigeria, empowering them with the knowledge and tools they need to grow profitable and sustainable businesses.
The initiative kicked off in early 2016 in Lagos, Abuja and Uyo. Over the course of the year, the Road to Women’s Business Growth program will train 500 women small business owners using a custom-build curriculum that combines in-class instruction and online learning. Following the financial literacy and investment readiness trainings, the women entrepreneurs will continue to receive support to help build their businesses. In addition, 100 participants will receive more intensive business support, including workshops, mentoring and linkages to financial services, investment and markets.
ExxonMobil and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women showcased the initiative at a special event in Lagos, Nigeria on International Women’s Day 2016. Mrs. Cherie Blair hosted the event, taking time to recognize and celebrate the first 250 women to graduate from the program. She was joined by Dami Adesanya from the Nigerian Ministry of Finance and Oluseyi Afolabi, the Executive Director of ExxonMobil Upstream Nigeria, who both spoke about the importance of increased financial access for women.
The Road to Women’s Business Growth is another innovative collaboration between ExxonMobil and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. Together, the foundations have developed a number of services and initiatives designed to provide thousands of women entrepreneurs with the skills needed to start and grow businesses, including an award-winning mobile learning tool called Business Women, which reached over 100,000 women across Nigeria, Indonesia and Tanzania. ExxonMobil is proud to join forces again with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, leveraging the power of technology to help increase women’s financial literacy and inclusion.
For more information about the Road to Women’s Business Growth project, read Cherie Blair’s piece, Catalyzing Growth for Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs for the Huffington Post.
And check out these five women’s stories on YouTube from the Road to Women’s Business Growth program.