In 2005, when the ExxonMobil Foundation launched our Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative, the percentage of new women-owned businesses in developing markets registered only in the low single digits. However, as an example of the progress being made, by last year 30 percent of Angolan businesses and a quarter of Nigerian enterprises were started by women.

We are proud to have played a small role in this progress.

We’ve invested $125 million and worked with partners to implement programs making positive impacts in the lives of tens of thousands of women in 90 countries.

Promoting women’s empowerment makes economic sense.  McKinsey Global Institute found that up to $28 trillion of global GDP growth could be unlocked by 2025 by advancing gender equality. In Sub-Saharan Africa, GDP would increase by 12 percent.

That’s why we support programs like Technoserve’s Business Women Connect training in Mozambique, where 91 percent of the program’s participants exercise better business practices and 59 percent have increased their incomes.

ExxonMobil’s supply chain includes more than 2,000 women-owned businesses, accounting for an annual spend of $500 million.  We play a central role in WEConnect International, which last year identified five Nigerian women-owned businesses to supply us with goods and services ranging from personal protective equipment to logistics consulting.

These are two of countless examples that prove the adage, “When women move forward, the world moves with them.”

I am proud of the progress and our contributions over the last 15 years. But I am even more excited about the work we have ahead of us.

Suzanne McCarron is Vice President of Public and Government Affairs at ExxonMobil


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