In honor of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day today, I’d like to take stock of how crucial women are to economic growth. For example, did you know that women-owned businesses in the formal sector account for about 37 percent of enterprises globally? That women in emerging markets reinvest 90 cents of every extra dollar earned in their families’ education, health and nutrition? And, that lending to women is associated with fewer write-offs and lower risk? And how about this — economies with high rates of women in the workforce experience fewer slowdowns of economic growth and are more resilient than those with low rates.
I’m proud to work for a company that’s committed to helping women succeed and thrive in communities where we do business. Through our Qualcomm Wireless Reach initiative, we bring the economic benefits of wireless connectivity to entrepreneurial ventures around the world, with the aim of improving people’s lives and boosting global self-sufficiency and prosperity. Because women entrepreneurs benefit immensely from access to and use of mobile technology, our entrepreneurship programs include a special emphasis on gender equality.
Our support of “SmartWoman Middle East” is a perfect example. This innovative mobile app connects an online community of women throughout the Gulf Region to each other and provides access to expert tools and resources for its users to develop and grow their careers and businesses.
The Arabic-language app runs on 3G- and 4G-enabled mobile devices. It is a welcome solution in a region where there is a dearth of apps in Arabic — even fewer for women seeking business or job creation information — and limited opportunities for women to gather, share experiences and do business with each other. In the Gulf’s male-dominated business environment, SmartWoman provides a comfortable, safe forum for female entrepreneurs to communicate, share experiences and get the information they need.
SmartWoman is a collaboration between Global Career Qatar, Ooredoo, Changecorp and Wireless Reach. Since its launch in 2014, the app has been downloaded more than 4,000 times in eight countries, including Qatar, Oman, USA, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UK.
In developing and emerging markets, many women have the ideas and ambitions needed to succeed but are hampered by a lack of access to business skills, education, technology, networks and capital. At Qualcomm, we know mobile can help women with these challenges that’s why Wireless Reach also has programs in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia to address these challenges.
In the Philippines, we support the Hapinoy Mobile Money Hub, a micro-enterprise development program focused on small village shop owners, most of whom are women. Participants can increase their incomes by becoming mobile money agents and using their smartphones, loaded with specialized mobile money apps, to provide reliable and needed financial services, such as payments and money transfers, in their neighborhoods.
In Malaysia, we’re collaborating with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women on the Mentoring Women in Business program to teach information and communications technology skills, English and business topics to women, with the aim of enabling them to create and grow their own businesses. A virtual solution combining tablets, 3G connectivity and an online mentoring platform connects the women in Malaysia with dedicated mentors from around the world and enables them to network with a global community of successful entrepreneurs and experienced business professionals.
We like to think that for us, Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is every day, but today we’re excited to celebrate women’s economic impact with entrepreneurs around the world.