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Courses, mentoring and funds – empowering women in business in XXI century

Research of World Bank and other organisations shows that investing in women just pays off! That is why initiatives such as Goldman Sachs 10.000 Women programme can help us recover from the economic crisis and reducing existing inequalities. We talk about free online business education courses for women entrepreneurs with Charlotte Keenan from Goldman Sachs. Find out more about the programme!

Charlotte, if you were to say – in one sentence, why it is worth to participate in 10,000 Women business course, what would it be?

It is challenging to summarize the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program in one line! The main goal is to encourage ambitious women business leaders, to work on their companies and take their businesses to the next level. The course itself is just the beginning of the learners’ journey with us. Once it’s finished, the participants join an extensive network of like-minded, ambitious women entrepreneurs – the 10,000 Women Alumni Community, which offers them wide possibilities for continuous learning and for developing valuable relations with one another

Asahi Pompey, global head of Corporate Engagement and president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation oraz Charlotte Keenan, head of the Office of Corporate Engagement’s international

Tell me more about the Goldman Sachs initiative – 10,000 Women. What is its purpose? Where does the idea come from to start a course for all women in different parts of the world who want to improve their business skills? Where did the name of the programme come from? Why 10,000 Women?

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women is a global initiative that supports economic development by offering a world-class education in business and management for enterprising women all over the world, with ongoing opportunities for mentoring and network development. It also provides greater access to capital. The program stems from our belief that developing enterprising and managerial talents in women, especially in developing and emerging economies, is one of the most important factors in reducing existing inequalities. This is also an effective way of reaching a more sustainable economic development.

The program was launched in 2008 on the back of research, including Womenomics and Women Hold Up Half the Sky, as well as data from the World Bank and others. These papers showed that investing in women can have considerable impact on GDP growth. The name 10,000 Women speaks to our original objective. When we were launching the program back in 2008, we wanted to reach 10,000 women entrepreneurs, and support their development by offering a best-in-class business education course.

Having reached this objective several years ago, we listened to the voices of the early graduates and realised that growth-focused businesswomen also need greater access to external financing. In 2014, we began a partnership with the IFC to create the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility (WEOF). This is the world’s first global financing facility intended exclusively for women. In 2018, we fully digitalised our learning program and launched it online in order to ensure an even more democratic access to our world-class business education. Finally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to make the course available to any woman entrepreneur around the world who would benefit from the learnings, including learners in Poland, free of charge.

It is very impressive! So, tell we what can be learnt by participating in the course and why are these 10 areas are included in it? And who are the course authors?

The 10,000 Women program is actually a collection of 10 separate online courses, each of them focusing on a selected key business area. The learning program was written by leading university experts in entrepreneurship. Its scope covers all elements needed to develop business skills and be a better leader, regardless of one’s industry. It’s all here – from capital raising to sales, marketing and management. The course is very interactive and practical. It consists of many components such as mock negotiations, learning how to complete a funding application, mapping competitors and identifying your competitive advantages.

How much time is needed for each course? And how long does it take on average to go through all 10 modules?

The courses can be completed individually, in combination or all at once – you can adapt your educational path to the specific needs of your business. Each course takes in total approx. four hours – although it does not have to be completed in one take. There are no time limits, and deadlines can be flexible and adapted to unexpected scheduling changes. The courses are entirely virtual but they include highly interactive exercises and practical learnings.. Every woman who decides to complete all 10 modules also has the opportunity to develop an individual business plan to develop her company. This can be treated as a “road map” that can be immediately deployed at one’s organisation.

Charlotte Keenan

But 10,000 Women is not just a course, right? This is also female networking, mentoring. How does this actually work? And what does such international cooperation with women offer?

This is true. As I have already mentioned, the course alone is not everything. After completing all 10 modules, eligible women entrepreneurs join a community of dynamic, innovative and enterprising women from around the world. We have been providing ongoing support to this community for over a decade.

Being a 10,000 Women graduate paves the way for further growing your business. It also means access to additional learning resources and materials that will help in becoming a better leader. Let’s take the past six months as an example. Throughout the pandemic, we were in constant contact with this global community of graduates, sharing expert knowledge and content from Goldman Sachs and our university partners. With this, we were able to quickly gather a rich resource of know-how, advice and information related to dealing with the existing conditions and businesses’ related needs. This includes thematic webinars regarding current challenges, such as how to build an online presence and effectively manage an organisation in times of crisis.

Throughout the world, we provided hundreds of small-business leaders with individual coaching by getting them in touch with Goldman Sachs employees who have appropriate skills and knowledge that make it possible to help businesses in overcoming the exceptional challenges they are facing.

Aside from support in the current crisis, graduates also have access to a range of resources and events that can help them to develop their business. These include networking events, additional training, live webinars with experts, newsletters and the latest news from the 10,000 Women team. The program’s graduates have also participated in events organised all over the world by Goldman Sachs and had an opportunity to meet other business leaders. There are also opportunities to participate in further coaching and training programs, including the annual Growth Fellowship – a prestigious week-long scholarship program intended to support further business development and help in enhancing business skills.

On behalf of many women in Poland who sometimes speak English well, but are afraid of courses and trainings in this language, I would like to ask about its difficulty level. Can they be afraid that the course will be too difficult to understand? I have seen that women from all over the world take part in it, so maybe it is not too complicated at all?

Precisely what you just said – the course should not be too complicated for participants for whom English is not a native language. When we created the course, we wanted it to be accessible for such people. This goal has always been a top priority in creating training materials. This is why I encourage every woman who is fluent in English, whether in Poland or elsewhere, to sign up for the course.

Asahi Pompey, global head of Corporate Engagement and president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation oraz Charlotte Keenan, head of the Office of Corporate Engagement’s international

In which countries the programme is available? And why in Poland?

We are aware of the problems currently faced by entrepreneurs around the world due to the ongoing crisis, and we want to help them. This is why we have made the 10,000 Women courses available to any entrepreneur around the world who may benefit, for free. Because the crisis is global, so is our offering.

I would also like to add that 10,000 Women is a fully flexible online educational program – participants can select areas that most closely correspond to their business needs. They can also go through each course at their own pace. This way, the courses are more accessible, there are no barriers or restrictions for the participants, who have to deal with a range of different priorities, whether personal or professional. We know that entrepreneurs all over the world are having trouble overcoming these difficulties – the course is intended to help women who run a business, also in Poland.

Is there anything more, a message, you’d like to share?

Certainly. In 2008, the world faced a tremendous financial crisis, which caused serious economic and social problems. What is exceptional about the current crisis is the fact that it has greatly influenced the way we function every day. In the longer perspective, it is widely expected that remote work and telecommuting will now become a dominant model of professional life.

It should be added that in the case of both of the crises, small businesses around the world were among those who suffered the most. They need all kinds of support. In this context, an online learning opportunity and access to resources are more important to entrepreneurs than at any time in the past. And our response to these needs was to make the 10,000 Women courses available to all entrepreneurs.

Thank you very much!

Let’s check the opportunity and join the course:

Charlotte Keenan is a head of the Office of Corporate Engagement’s international at Goldman Sachs

Photos: Goldman Sachs

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