Eight million U.S. businesses are currently women-owned, and these firms have an economic impact of $3 trillion in annual revenues. They also have about 23 million employees (or voters), which is 16 percent of all U.S. jobs, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research.
Women in the U.S. are also starting companies 2-3x faster than their male counterparts.
But, why is this important data?
It is widely acknowledged that societies who are economically stable have a much greater capacity for peace. The case for such a bold statement can be found through evidence in the relationship between democracies and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- Democracies are generally stable above $6,000 GDP per capita
- Democracies are generally vulnerable to coups and civil wars between $3,000 and $6,000 GDP per capita
- Democracies are likely to fail below $3,000 GDP per capita
Rwanda’s GDP per capita is $620 and Afghanistan’s GDP per capita is $687, which puts them both well below the $3,000 level where democracies are likely to fail.
That is why The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women’s PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® Program is so important. It helps provide women with a voice in their fight to establish peace and free market opportunities. Women are 50 percent of the world’s population, which gives us the ability to make major changes in the world’s economy.
In our eighth year, more than 400 women have graduated from the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® Program. Additional data also shows that 80 percent of the graduates are still in business today, compared to a U.S. 57 percent failure rate in small business startups within the first five years.
Successful business statistics and impressive personal stories show women graduating from the program and getting involved in public policy, too.
Rwanda has the notable position of being No. 1 in the world for women in government with 63.8 percent of the lower house of parliament represented by women and 38.5 percent in the Senate.
PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® graduates who have served or are now serving in public office are Teddy Gacinya, Anne-Marie Kantengwa, Marie-Josee Kankera, Anne Rugege, Sara Mukandutiye and Erin Asiimwe.
Anne Marie Kantengwa, a 2013 graduate, owns Hotel Chez Lando and has a staff of 140 people. After the Rwandan genocide, she took over her family-run hotel and transformed it into a wonderful destination hotel in the city of Kigali.
In Afghanistan, PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® Program alumnae, along with other Afghan business women, founded LEAD (Leading Entrepreneurs of Afghanistan Development).
In January 2014, LEAD founders, including graduates Freshta Hazeq, Farah Karimi, and Manizha Wafeq, met with President Hamid Karzai to express their support for his administration to sign the Bilateral Strategic Agreement with the United States to help with the relief of the current economic and political deterioration being felt within the country. This was a huge step for women in Afghanistan.
The number of women who have graduated from the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® Program shows that even in countries where women face great hardships, they still have the desire to contribute to their country economically, socially and politically.
The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women believes strongly in these philosophies; but more importantly, the organization believes in women. Women are the caretakers, the mothers, grandmothers, the wives, the sisters, the aunts and so much more. They are emerging leaders in the business world; women are the key to bolstering our future global economy.
Small business has been the backbone of economic stability, and the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women believes that women are the key to the development and stability of business in emerging economies. There is no doubt that female entrepreneurs are establishing credibility and peace around the globe.
Terry Neese is a NewsOK contributor and founder and CEO of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW). She leads the organization to accomplish its mission both domestically and internationally through training programs for women business owners in the area of public policy and entrepreneurial education.
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