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Economic Empowerment through Self Employment... and Jobs?

Cities can be dangerous, but they can also be full of opportunities. The success of micro-finance in improving access to funding and helping people realize their entrepreneurial potential is well documented. Women's Initiative is an organization doing incredible work with "high-potential, low-income" women in Oakland, San Francisco and New York. Over 70% of their graduates remain in their business ventures 5 years after their training. Women's Initiative graduates have created over 5,000 jobs.

Photo of Jason Rissman
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Having worked with (and learned from) micro entrepreneurs in Nicaragua, I have a deep appreciation for how empowering self employment can be. Organizations like Grameen Bank and platforms like Kiva are doing great work to support potential entrepreneurs. Still, despite the incredible impact of micro enterprise, I believe that more people will escape poverty through jobs.

Since this challenge is focused on cities, I'm especially curious about how existing urban institutions might help extend economic empowerment to women -- both through access to credit / training that leads to self employment, as well as through job creation focused on women. I realize that in some places, women are barred from formal employment in many sectors. Will this change? How?


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Photo of Maria Rosa Galter

Hi Jason,

I agree that economically empowered women are a key to social change in any culture. In Tanzania, we are looking at creating business incubators for young women so they can be job creators. Over 900,000 youth enter the workforce each year and there are only 50000-60000 jobs available. I am not sure what you mean by urban institutions? Can you clarify?

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