What’s the story: What if there was a way to boost the global economy and create 288 million to 433 million jobs worldwide? According to a March 2022 report by Citigroup Inc., parity among men and women entrepreneurs worldwide could do just that.
This isn’t news to UPS: Back in 2018, UPS and The UPS Foundation launched the Women Exporters Program (WEP) to help address the disparity in education and workforce participation between men and women by providing targeted assistance to women-owned small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) worldwide.
“We knew helping more women-owned businesses to export was key to unlocking more prosperity for communities around the globe,” said Maria Luisa Boyce, vice president of international trade and Latin America for UPS global public affairs.
How the program works: Through partnerships with government agencies, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders, UPS leverages influence and education to help women around the world overcome barriers to free trade.
“We started with two main partnerships when we launched the program – the International Trade Center based in Geneva and their She Trades initiative. The other partnership was the USAID under the Women's Global Development Prosperity Initiative,” said Maria Luisa. “Today, we have more than 10 partnerships.”
Working together, these organizations provide tools, training and networks that help women-owned businesses connect with financing and potential customers globally.
Making the pivot: During the pandemic, WEP administrators realized women entrepreneurs were disproportionately affected by the pandemic because many became caregivers as well as breadwinners.
“We had to stop and reassess,” said Maria Luisa. “What were the needs of the women entrepreneurs? What support could we provide to help them deal with the crisis and be able to survive?”
The reassessment led to a renewed focus in three areas
- Skills building for e-commerce and digital trade
- Access to financing
- Resilience training and tools
“We also realized we couldn’t limit it to women. We had to expand it to all small and medium-sized businesses, because all of them were hurting,” Maria Luisa said. “So we launched global webinars and training in all parts of the world for small businesses.”
To date, WEP has trained nearly 31,000 women and small business owners around the world.