In today’s economy, we’re all looking for new markets to tap into. One of the most promising, writes Isobel Coleman on Forbes.com, is the burgeoning market of women in developing nations.
Coleman cites a Booz Allen study that says women represent the “third billion,” a market equivalent to the billion-plus-population markets of India and China. As women increasingly become empowered as employees, customers, citizens and leaders in their families, that third billion is coming into its own.
But there are still many stumbling blocks to deal with before women in developing nations gain full equality. Coleman suggests that, just as businesses currently benefit by incorporating socially responsible and green practices into the way they operate, they could also benefit by working to further the cause of empowering women.
The article’s focus is on larger businesses, of course, and Coleman cites examples of ways companies like Tupperware and Standard Chartered Bank are working to help women in developing nations. But I think what she’s saying is applicable to all businesses, including yours and mine.
As woman entrepreneurs, helping women worldwide achieve their full potential should be something we aim for not just in an effort to open new markets, but because it’s the right thing to do. And even the smallest startups can get involved in this from the moment they open their doors.
Don’t believe me? In an article I wrote for AllBusiness.com, I spoke with Rebecca Kousky, founder of Nest. Her company empowers women around the world using a unique approach she calls microbarter. Nest gives women small loans so they can buy supplies to make their crafts. Instead of having them repay the loans in cash, Nest sells the crafts they make on its website.
Rebecca told me she knew her business model was going to work when she heard that the first woman Nest made a loan to was making more money from selling one pair of earrings than she normally earned in an entire month.
There are many ways your small business can get involved in helping women overseas, whether it’s by contributing to microloan organizations like Kiva.org or by buying products from women in small villages like Nest does.
Want more ideas and help taking your business global? Talk to the counselors at SCORE.