For those looking for investment, education is also a critical factor. The World Bank Group for example established that the link between solid accounting standards and effective service delivery is clear cut. It is common knowledge that SME’s in general struggle with this aspect of business management and studies have shown that women owned business in particular can lack a financial literacy skills focus.
Increasingly NGO’s are offering technical assistance (TA) to help enterprises become investment ready. However there are also great online resources. However there are also great online resources. Organisations such as ACCA via ACCA-X offer an educational technology platform that builds a greater understanding of fundamental financial reporting needs, with the International Trade Centre and indeed Challenges College offering great content around doing business generally.
These kinds of platforms offer practical insights and educational pathways as well as the necessary capacity building tools. They support understanding in terms of the role of connected supply chains and markets and why these are so critical in supporting women owned businesses - from micro to multinational.
We also discussed the importance of physical networking and storytelling. Whether online or in person, this is a form of mentoring. It is evidenced that sharing experience strength and hope between individuals, communities and regions makes it possible to bridge some of the gaps of confidence as well as understanding. However, once again there are also great online platforms. Nina-iraq, is a prime example of this in actions as is UN Women’s Empower Women platform.
Finally – empowerment is of course the motor behind it all. If individual entrepreneurs are empowered through KPIs relevant to them (both financial and social are critical)- growth will happen in a way that is both relevant and innovative. Individuals are empowered to take responsibility for what they feel they can deliver and become stakeholders in their own performance. In turn, regular reporting (through live digital reporting) empowers investors - as they can keep a careful eye on the portfolio of organisations they are supporting.
This kind of interaction allows enterprises to move from fear-driven survival to opportunity-driven growth. At the same time living relationships are able mitigate investor risk and therefore allow for exploration of more innovative approaches on their part.
A final word from 22 year old student volunteer Hajar:
“Equality is not a given, it is a task to accomplish.”
And we individually and collectively have a responsibility to make this kind of scalable growth happen, showing that women are at the heart of making socio-economic transformation of nations a reality.
For those of you who want to dig a bit more deeply a great report launched by FSG, which ACRE contributed to can be viewed here . Focussed on East Africa it looks at how market-shaping inter