There is an increasingly widespread agreement on the importance of economic participation and empowerment of women. This report confirms this importance and adds a perspective from the position of empowered women entrepreneurs that originate from marginalized, impoverished communities. It shows how stakeholders’ interventions can be built on their initiatives and aspirations, to further strengthen their position.
This report reflects the experiences and results of a program carried out by CARE and the H&M
Foundation, called “Strengthening Women – a Catalyst for Positive Change!”. The program focuses
on strengthening capacities of women entrepreneurs in eleven countries worldwide. The women’s
experiences and stories are at the heart of this report, underpinned with facts and figures from
research and literature.
The program principally focuses on the economic empowerment of entrepreneurs through training,
access to capital and inspiring role models. Although the women come from low-income communities
and in some cases did not have experience in enterprise development, the large majority
indicates that income from their enterprises has increased (sometimes ten-fold), while at the same
time they have gained more control over their enterprise, income and time. This in turn has resulted
in increased self esteem and leadership.
Although the women may have been motivated by necessity when they started their enterprise,
many of them are now taking advantage of opportunities for growth. Through the women’s organizations
and with support from the program, they managed to gain access to new markets, created
awareness about the specific needs and rights of women entrepreneurs and developed initiatives to
access new financial resources.
To further strengthen women entrepreneurs’ development, the report concludes with a framework
for the empowerment of women entrepreneurs proposing actions in three domains:
• Development of skills and capabilities at the level of the individual women,
their enterprises and organizations.
• Strengthening women’s visibility, collective voice and representation.
• The creation of enabling conditions for women entrepreneurs with or by other
CARE and H&M Foundation will continue to support the empowerment of women entrepreneurs
from marginalized communities so that they generate an income, experience ownership and
capitalize on their business potential. We are a broker with a mission, facilitating a movement that
fuels the transformation of existing networks of women into flourishing business communities with a
lasting impact on society.We invite government organizations, private companies, civil society organizations and international organizations to join us in this effort and therefore conclude this report with a call for action for them to engage with women entrepreneurs.