Our remarks today focus on the importance of supporting economic opportunities for women, particularly women entrepreneurs. At a March 2017 roundtable with women small business owners, President Trump declared, “Empowering and promoting women in business is an absolute priority… because I know how crucial women are as job creators, role models, and leaders all throughout our communities.” The President further said, “We will continue to address the barriers faced by women professionals and entrepreneurs, including access to capital, access to markets, and access to networks.”
We would like to highlight several United States government initiatives to promote women’s success in business by helping women overcome some of those barriers. Our approach is to collaborate with the private sector, which is essential for addressing complex challenges, reducing duplication, and leveraging limited resources.
In July 2017, the United States announced its intent to provide $50 million to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, or We-Fi. We-Fi is an innovative new multi-donor facility for which the World Bank will serve as Trustee, aimed at expanding access to financial services for women entrepreneurs as well as technical assistance, covering such areas as skills enhancements and market access. The initiative will support projects that address the legal and policy barriers women face in starting and growing successful businesses in a variety of sectors.
The United States has collaborated with the private sector to develop programs that link women business owners with others in their regions. These include Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas, WEAmericas; African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, AWEP; and Women’s Entrepreneurship in APEC, WE-APEC.
The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise helps artisan enterprises throughout the world reach their full economic potential, including through financing mechanisms and coaching on efficient business practices. The artisan sector is the second largest employer in the developing world after agriculture, generating over $32 billion each year, and women make up a large number of its employees. The United States, Aspen Institute, and over 125 artisan businesses and support organizations, corporations, foundations, governments, and multilateral agencies partner through the Alliance.
The United States and private sector partners have established business centers to help women business owners’ transition from the informal economy to establish formally registered companies, thereby contributing to a country’s economic growth and societal change. Training, mentoring, capacity building, and technology support are among the activities that take place. Some centers have engaged men and boys to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
The United States and India will co-host the November 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, GES, in Hyderabad, India. Since 2010 this annual summit has brought together entrepreneurs, investors, and other stakeholders to encourage new initiatives and economic growth, promote collaboration across borders, and increase economic opportunities. This year’s summit will focus on women entrepreneurs under the theme “Women First, Prosperity for All,” which recognizes the tremendous promise for economic growth and prosperity that women represent.
In conclusion, enabling women’s economic participation has substantial benefits, including increased economic opportunities for all and greater security and stability. When women succeed, we all succeed. The United States intends to remain strongly engaged in this area.