NEW YORK: Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the world s largest investment bank, unveiled a plan Wednesday to spend $100 million to teach 10,000 women business and management skills across the globe.
The initiative specifically plans to target women in the Middle East, Asia and Africa who might have little or no opportunity to pursue such an education.
The program links major U.S. and foreign universities together to teach the curriculum – which can span five weeks to nine months.
Goldman Sachs Chairman and Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said those recruited into the program will learn basic business principals such as marketing and funding their business ideas. The hope is that they return to their communities, put what they learned to use, and add to their local economies.
For example, Africa has about 2,600 women business students in a 900 million person continent. … That s a waste, Blankfein told The Associated Press. Helping women get a business education is an issue getting riper and riper, and there s a feeling it is long overdue.
A study by the World Bank showed about 70,000 highly qualified African scholars and experts leave their home countries each year to work abroad, most relocating to more developed countries. Africa then spends about $4 billion a year to recruit expatriates to fill those positions.
Further, Goldman Sachs economists issued their own report that said female education could raise gross domestic product by about 0.2 percent annually in hundreds of developing countries like Egypt, Indonesia, Korea and Nigeria.
So, the hope is that boosting women s education will also help fill some of those jobs. American schools such as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School and others will work with local universities overseas to run the program.
Goldman s 10,000 Women project already has found its first beneficiary.
Eman Yousry, 27, will get a five-week course in creating a business for the handmade furniture she designs in Egypt.
Though she graduated from Helwan University in Cairo with a degree in fine art, she said there aren t many options for business school.
Egypt doesn t support women in business, she said. Its a different culture.
Maha ElShinnawy, an associate professor at The American University in Cairo, expects about 1,000 women in the Middle East will benefit from the program. They will live at the campus during their courses, and learn from a program developed by her university and Wharton.
She said educating women is, in effect, educating an entire society. The hope is that students like Yousry, who learned to make furniture from her mother, will pass on the business skills to her children.
I think there s a lot of ignorance and lack of awareness in some cultures about women in business, she said. For instance, a woman trying to get funding is more likely to be met with demands for collateral than a man would be. We can show these women can pay back loans, and there s no reason to be skeptical.
Thomas Robertson, Wharton s dean, said there will be issues when students go back into the family structure, or community, about how they ll apply what they learned. However, he said he believes the program can help to chip away at social stigmas about women entrepreneurs in some corners of the world.
The 10,000 Women program will become Goldman Sach s biggest charitable donation. In 2007, Goldman Sachs gave about $101 million to charities and about $19 million in grants through a separate education foundation.