Addison-headquartered cosmetics giant Mary Kay Inc. has announced a groundbreaking, multi-partner initiative designed to inspire and educate entrepreneurial women across the globe.
Called the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator, it is a strategic collaboration developed in consultation with six United Nations agencies: UN Women, United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Trade Centre (ITC), UN Global Compact (UNGC), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“Mary Kay has empowered women through entrepreneurship and supported their aspirations for financial security and independence for more than 56 years,” Mary Kay Chief Operating Officer Deborah Gibbins said in in a statement.
The accelerator will offer a guided digital curriculum supplemented by on-the-ground training and mentorship. It’s open to women of all types and business levels—there’s no qualifying barriers to participate.
“We know that we have so much power, and we can do much more—but we have to move faster,” Gibbins said earlier this week at the 2019 Concordia Annual Summit, the largest and most inclusive nonpartisan forum alongside the United Nations General Assembly. Mary Kay Chief Legal Counsel and Corporate Secretary Julia Simon also attended the Concordia Annual Summit.
The accelerator aims to serve as an advocacy platform to eliminate entrepreneurial roadblocks for women. That could include anything from digital literacy to legal reform. The worldwide efforts will involve encouraging businesses to establish and expand relationships with women-owned companies, including corporate procurement.
At the announcement of the initiative, Gibbins said that 163 million women in 74 countries started or ran new businesses in 2016. Mary Kay hopes this will enable those women to fully participate in the growth of their local and national economies.
“Private and public-sector organizations must work together to ensure all women entrepreneurs have access to the tools and education they need to make their dreams of financial independence a reality, lifting up their families and communities,” she said.
At first, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator will be available in six languages, with more to come as it expands to 192 countries. There will also be an advisory committee of entrepreneurs, celebrities, and advocates to oversee promotion and expansion of the program.
Mary Kay said in the future, an expansion of the program will include funding opportunities accessible to women who complete the curriculum.
“An informed woman with money in her pocket, is an empowered woman. With the growing number of female innovators active today, women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment are strongly on the rise,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, said in a statement. “The advocates from across the world who are joining forces to create the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator will enable more women than ever to become knowledgeable entrepreneurs, cultivate financial independence, and support their local communities.”
Arancha González, executive director of the International Trade Centre, said the partnership we will empower women and girls to pursue their dreams of being an entrepreneur. This will equip them with “the skills needed to turn those dreams into business success.”
The accelerator is the latest in a series of recent steps Mary Kay has taken to improve the lives of women everywhere.
Earlier this year, Mary Kay joined a number of businesses and corporations committed to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a joint project of the UN Global Compact and UN Women developed to emphasize corporate action to promote gender equality.
The company also is a signatory of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.
During the UN General Assembly, Mary Kay said it will sponsor the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge, the first global business competition for women entrepreneurs that is convened by well-known fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.
Legendary Dallas entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash founded Mary Kay with three goals: develop rewarding opportunities for women, offer irresistible products, and make the world a better place. Now, the company works with millions of independent sales force members in nearly 40 countries.
“She wanted to create a company where women could realize their full potential using all their skills and talents,” Gibbins said at the Concordia Summit.
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