Global Partnership Launches Women's Entrepreneur Corps

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Business Women's Network recently announced they have formed a partnership that will allow successful American businesswomen to volunteer their time to mentor women in developing countries.

Ambassador Harriet C. Babbitt, deputy administrator for USAID and Edie Fraser of the Business Women's Network, announced the launching of the Women's Entrepreneur Corps during USAID's Lessons Without Borders conference titled Women Mean Business -- A Global Exchange.

Developed by the Business Women's Network, the Women's Entrepreneur Corps is a business mentorship program of professional women who are willing to donate their time to help growing businesses in developing countries. The Business Women's Network will recruit and train the volunteers. USAID missions overseas will identify potential businesses needing help and request a Women's Entrepreneur Corps team to that country. The teams will spend approximately 10 days in that country helping the women with basic skills for building a successful business. This includes market research; financial plans; in-country tax and regulatory procedures; targeting the customer base; customer service; marketing; and employee incentives.

Endorsing the program was Queen Rania al-Abdullah of Jordan, co-chair of the conference and a great supporter of women micro enterprise programs in her own country.

Immediate tasks facing USAID and BWN will be to identify the first women to serve in the Corps, profile the women by background and industry sector, develop measurement and reporting mechanisms and explore the use of technology to support counseling and communications.

"These women are an asset to their national economies and to our global economy, but they need our help," said Ambassador Babbitt. "I am proud that American women will provide that help through the Women's Entrepreneur Corps."

The Business Women's Network is a coalition that links 4,000 women's organizations and web sites around the world. They act as a clearinghouse of information for professional women and national and international organizations, corporations, and government agencies. "It is a privilege to inspire others to build their businesses and economic power as many of us here in the United States have been fortunate to do," said Fraser.

Women Mean Business is part of a series of Lessons Without Borders conferences sponsored by USAID to link the best practices in health, the environment, housing, education, and small business development overseas with those here at home.

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