How can companies empower women not only in an economic sense, but holistically? How can this actually contribute to a stronger core business model for many organizations?
These ideas were at the heart of discussion at Endeva’s latest Inclusive Business event, held with our partner, Witter Ventures on September 2. Witter Ventures has systematically mapped the evolution of integrating women’s empowerment into business, and from this experience, have created a framework for businesses to consider when building women’s empowerment into their strategy. This framework will be presented to Witter Ventures’ clients in New York later this year.
Berlin’s inclusive business community gathered at Hackescher Markt to discuss these issues as part of Endeva’s ongoing Inclusive Business Brown Bag Lunch series. Both Witter Ventures and companies present shared that an overemphasis on only the economic empowerment of women is often not enough. If a woman is getting a fair salary but does have any say in her financial situation at home, which is a challenge in some cultures, it does not help her. Smallsolutions, a Berlin-based solar energy company, found that hiring women to sell the lamps seemed like a great business idea at first: the women were well connected within the communities and efficient salespeople. However, the women inexplicably dropped out of the program in droves. Although smallsolutions did not have the opportunity to dig into the reasons for the women dropping out of their program, they suspect that it is simply because a holistic approach to integrating them was missing. Similarly, microfinance programs often find that women, though better at repaying loans, are also more likely to drop out of programs if there is no further support offered.