Geri Stengel

 
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A Hand Up Is Better Than A Hand-out

In a recent interview with Women In Development, Dina Powell, president, Goldman Sachs Foundation, discussed the progress and lessons learned from Goldman’s, 10,000 Women Program, a $100 million effort that began in 2008.

10000 Women Program, building communities, corporate philanthropy, entrepreneurs, investing in women, philanthropyThe program has some impressive achievements in its short history:

  • 5,500 women have become entrepreneurs;
  • 70 percent of the women helped have increased their revenues;
  • 50  percent have created new jobs;
  • 90 percent of those helped have mentored other women.

The results so heartened the foundation’s board that a second program was developed to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in the US, the 10,000 Small Business project, which I’ve supported since its inception. I look forward to reporting on its success as well.

Powell’s comments reinforced some basic concepts of corporate philanthropy:

  • Mission match. The philanthropic effort should be a good fit with corporate strategy. Goldman Sachs understand business development, its employees have the skills needed to facilitate entrepreneurship, and are interested in contributing
  • Invest in women. Women think of family and community before themselves, and reinvest in communities at a much higher rate than men do, as journalist Nicolas Kristoff and the World Bank, among others, have pointed out.
  • Set measurable outcomes. Evaluation is critical to success. Make sure you use the right tools and the right metrics. Partner with academics and NGOs who have these skills.
  • Honor the local community and culture. Work with local partners who understand the ramifications of empowering a woman so that she is respected rather than reviled.
  • Partnerships are necessary to meet the need. These partnerships could be cross-sector and include governments.
  • Nonprofits need business skills. Good business skills, mentoring, networks, and access to capital is as important as building businesses. With better training, nonprofits can provide more and better services.

As many people are now realizing, the people at the bottom of the pyramid are entrepreneurial, hard-working, and a growing power. Giving them a hand up will far more long-lasting impact than giving them a hand-out.

What do you think of foundations investing in entrepreneurship? Can such programs make a real impact on social ills?