Goldman funds business education for third-world women

2008

A multi-million dollar initiative by a major U.S. bank is set to preach the virtues of good management and business skills to women in developing nations around the world.

The move by investment bank Goldman Sachs, which plans to spend more than $100m teaching business and management skills to 10,000 women in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, is intended to promote entrepreneurial skills to people who have traditionally been unable to access them. Initially it will be helping out 560 women in rural Zambia.

The "10,000 Women" initiative also brings together business schools in the U.S, UK, India, Africa and even Afghanistan.

But intriguingly Goldman Sachs, which unlike many of its fellow investment banks has ridden out the global credit crunch and sub-prime mortgages meltdown largely unscathed, has argued that, from a management perspective, its move is not solely philanthropic.

By opening up markets and helping individuals to generate wealth it can, in the process, help to keep the global economy turning smoothly.

"Those of us who champion open markets must also do our part to create more opportunity to ensure economic growth is more broadly shared," said Lloyd C. Blankfein, chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs.

"10,000 Women focuses on a critical, yet often overlooked area where we believe Goldman Sachs can use its resources and convening power to help build the foundation to expand the ranks of businesswomen, managers and entrepreneurs around the world," he added.

The bank will fund tuition for business and management education for the women as well as work with development organisations better to understand the local challenges girls and young women must overcome to achieve their full potential.

Goldman Sachs managers will also spend time on education and mentoring themselves.

The bank's own analysis has suggested that narrowing the existing gender gap in employment could increase income per capita by as much as a tenth to 14 per cent in Brazil, Russia, India and China and other emerging markets by 2020.

Higher levels of female education could also have raised GDP growth rates in these countries by some 0.2 per cent over the past decade, it argued.

It's by no means Goldman Sachs' first venture into philanthropic work as the bank already funds many initiatives through its Goldman Sachs Gives foundation. But the 10,000 Women initiative is one of the largest single commitments ever made by the bank.

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