The Impact and Value of Investing in Female Entrepreneurs
Dina Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation
Photos | Transcript

altWashington, DCOn April 30, 2012, Women's Foreign Policy Group hosted a luncheon program with Dina Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation and Director of the 10,000 Women initiative, who spoke on "The Impact and Value of Investing in Female Entrepreneurs" followed by a conversation with Claire Shipman, ABC News correspondent and co-author of Womenomics. During the discussion, Powell spoke about the program's importance in advancing women’s economic power and improving society by providing training for female entrepreneurs around the globe. Divya Keshav, a 10,000 Women graduate who now runs her own successful printing business in India, also made brief remarks about the value of the program for her professional and personal life.

Women's economic empowerment is "just smart economics," Powell explained, echoing the words of The World Bank president Robert Zoellick. While women’s empowerment is often labeled the "nice" or the "right" thing to do, Powell declared that it is in fact imperative, citing the resulting dramatic increases in both GDP growth and societal benefits. Of the 5,800 women who have completed the program to date—80% have increased revenues and 66% have created new jobs. Powell also explained that women's empowerment leads to healthier and more educated families, since the children of a mother who has received at least five years of primary education are 50% less likely to contract HIV/AIDS. Women, she said, tend to re-invest more of their income into the social welfare of their communities than men do, increasing the benefit for all.

Powell underlined the two most important aspects of the program: its pragmatic approach and its focus on mentoring. While much has been done at the microfinance level, she cited 10,000 Women's unique focus on the "missing middle," the small- and medium-sized business owners. The program provides them with practical skills to advance their businesses, including courses in accounting, marketing, and even negotiations, which she dubbed "confidence classes" and said are the favorite and most useful of all the modules. Also encouraging, nine out of ten graduates have mentored at least one other woman, spreading the benefits of the program to even non-graduates.

Keshav is an example of the impact of 10,000 Women on its participants. In Keshav's case, her family's printing business was on the verge of closing in 2008, but after applying the business skills she acquired through the program, she was able to turn the company around. She increased revenue by 300%, expanded her workforce by 33%, and instituted generous benefits for her employees. Keshav’s message was "every woman has the power to change the social, economic, political, and cultural scenario if only she has faith in herself."


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WFPG Board Member Ann McLaughlin Korologos
introduces Dina Powell

  Dina Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs
Foundation, addresses WFPG

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WFPG Board Chair Maxine Isaacs welcomes guests

  Divya Keshav, a graduate of 10,000 Women, speaks
about her experiences in the program

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Dina Powell and ABC News reporter Claire Shipman

  Dina Powell answering questions

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Dina Powell and Claire Shipman with Maxine Isaacs,
WFPG President Patricia Ellis, and WFPG Board Members Mary Catherine Toker, Ann McLaughlin Korologos,
and Donna Constantinople

  Dina Powell with Ann McLaughlin Korologos

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Maxine Isaacs, Dina Powell, and
Beth Dozoretz of the State Department

  Claire Shipman, Patricia Ellis, Dina Powell,
and Ann McLaughlin Korologos

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Claire Shipman and Dina Powell

  Patricia Ellis with WFPG Corporate Advisory Council Members Mary Catherine Toker and
Susan Crockett of General Mills, Inc.

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Ann McLaughlin Korologos and
Maxine Isaacs with guests

  Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde of Finland

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Dina Powell speaks with guests after the program

  Divya Keshav with WFPG Associate Director Kimberly Kahnhauser and Kara Gustafson of Goldman Sachs

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Ann McLaughlin Korologos, Patricia Ellis, and Dina Powell

  WFPG Members and guests during the luncheon