Women make up the single largest untapped market in the world, said Shelly Porges, senior advisor of the Obama Administration’s Global Entrepreneurship Program in the State Department at a panel discussion at AU Oct 27.
“If you look at the combined buying power of women and the combined productions capability potential of women — bigger than India and China,” Porges said.
The Kogod School of Business and AU Center for Israel Studies held the panel with Porges and Liora Katzenstein in the EQB Lounge. They spoke about empowering female entrepreneurs around the globe and offered advice to entrepreneurs.
Kogod Executive-in-Residence Jill Klein moderated the event. She began the panel by quoting Hillary Clinton’s Sept. 16 speech at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Women and the Economy Summit.
Clinton said women are a vital source of growth that can enhance the world economy.
“By increasing women’s participation in the economy and enhancing their efficiency and productivity, we can have a dramatic impact on the competitiveness and growth of our economies,” Klein quoted Clinton as saying in the speech.
Katzenstein, founder and president of the Institute for the Study of Entrepreneurship and Management of Innovation in Israel, presented the changes that must be made to increase women’s participation in business around the world.
The issues of family life are not just issues for women, but for society in general, she said, as more women in the workforce means there will be more equality between women and men.
“There will be more dads to stay home with the children, and there will be more programs that will enable women to work from home that will keep women’s jobs when they go on maternity leave because this is an interest of society, and not just an issue of women,” Katzenstein said about the future increase of women in business.
She showed examples of successful women entrepreneurs who own growing businesses in Israel and India. These women brought their countries a few steps forward in social equality. Katzenstein said.
Porges stressed the need for more women entrepreneurs across the world to help alleviate the global economy’s ongoing crisis.
She said women’s entrepreneurship is key to economic growth in any country.
The State Department has developed programs focusing on giving women resources to become entrepreneurs in both developed and developing countries, Porges said. Some programs provide technological, financial and governmental resources to women entrepreneurs in developing countries as well as the United States.
“Most parts of the world, women do not have access to the formal economy,” Porges said. “That means they don’t have access to job opportunities, whether it is a developing country or a developed country.”
Porges said State Department entrepreneur programs for women have empowered them in both economic and social ways. They can support their families and gain confidence to do things that often make women voices of change in their communities.
“We believe that, by fostering entrepreneurship, we are promoting women as voices of change as much as we are promoting women as economic engines of their economy,” Porges said.
At the end of the event, Katzenstein and Porges offered advice to women who want to be entrepreneurs. They both emphasized that entrepreneurs should be willing to take risks and that having job experience and confidence is important for success.
“Women, as well as any other entrepreneur, should learn from everybody and anybody they work with,” Porges said. “Taking good advantage of networking opportunities and connections are also very important.”