Women all around the world are constantly faced with barriers; from lack of educational access and employment opportunities, to insufficient health care services and financial access, the list of inequalities they face is seemingly endless. However, what some fail to realize, is that holding back women simultaneously holds back entire economies.
As demonstrated in numerous published reports, providing women with sustainable incomes and access to services has a deeply-rooted impact on economic development. In a study recently released by the McKinsey Global Institute, findings show that if every country narrowed the gender gap by the same rate as the fastest-improving country in its region, then the global GDP would increase by an astonishing $12 trillion in 2025.
As its mission to fight poverty through business, GBF has made a commitment to create economic opportunities for women. GBF strongly believes in the vast ripple effect investing in young girls and women can have on the future. A report published by the UN stated that girls and women reallocate 90% of their earned income on the family and household, generating great economic growth. As of March 2017, GBF is impacting 500,000 women annually, amounting to 50% of GBF’s impact. It has generated a total of $24,000,000 in economic value with hopes to continue supporting women. Below are two specific GBF clients who share the belief that women are key to growing economies.
Gone Rural was formed in 1992 to create employment for women in rural communities across Swaziland. One of the most impoverished nations in the world and having the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, Swazi women nonetheless have been successfully harvesting the indigenous and sustainable “lutindizi” grass to hand-craft artisanal products. Gone Rural provides market access to more than 750 Swazi women artisans spread across 13 communities. Over 10 years, Gone Rural was able to quadruple the income of their entrepreneurs. Additionally, as part of employment, Gone Rural provides mobile clinics, HIV education, literacy courses and skills training to its female entrepreneurs.
GBF invested in Gone Rural to help provide purchase order financing, and assisted the company in developing an innovative financing structure to best run their organization.
Another one of GBF’s investees that concentrates on providing sustainable livelihoods for women is Jaipur
Rugs, one of India’s most distinguished manufacturers of hand knotted rugs. Jaipur Rugs runs two programs specifically for women; “Young Women Entrepreneurship Development Programme” and the “Alternative Education Program” (AEP). The entrepreneurship program aims to stimulate entrepreneurial spirit among underprivileged women in India through skills development training. The hope is to foster creativity and empower these women to become successful businesswomen. Meanwhile, many young girls and women in small-underdeveloped towns in India have either never received an education or weren’t able to finish. In order to address this growing problem, Jaipur Rugs launched The Alternative Education Program, which focuses on providing functional literacy to these illiterate artisans. Jaipur Rugs greatly emphasizes the importance of women receiving a thorough education, as findings have shown that each additional year of secondary schooling results in a 15-25% increase in a girl’s potential income. Along with its tremendous efforts to provide economic and educational opportunities to women, Jaipur’s workforce currently consists of 60% women.