Since the end of 2016, Miller Center has had women’s economic empowerment (originally named Women Rising) as an area of focus. Through the years, we have run accelerator programs for women-led social enterprises, social enterprises focused on women and girls, and most recently, social enterprises that support women along four dimensions: as leaders, employees, value chain participants, and customers. Through this journey, we have learned a lot and still have much to learn.
While there seems to be widespread agreement in supporting women across these dimensions, the fact is that women continue to be underutilized in the global workforce, underpaid for their work, and underrepresented as business owners, executives, entrepreneurs, employees, and customers.
Today Miller Center is launching a whitepaper that dives into what we have learned over the years and why we see social entrepreneurship as a powerful mechanism for addressing women’s economic empowerment. Social enterprises are, by definition, mission-driven organizations. At the outset of Miller Center’s work with social entrepreneurs, we ask them to get very clear on their mission — their “why”. With that understood, an impact model is created, and with their mentors, the entrepreneurs create business models that are inextricably linked to their impact models. Hence, when the business grows, the impact grows; when impact grows, business grows. It turns out the same is true with women’s economic empowerment. It is baked into the social enterprise model. As social enterprises are successful, they positively impact more women in one or more dimensions as leaders, employees, value chain participants, and customers.
Based at a university, Miller Center is a continuous learning organization. As we learn, we will share because it takes many organizations, learning from each other, and coming together to foster a world in which all women have equal opportunities.