Obama in Kenya: Why the US is investing $500 million in African women

President Obama pledged $1 billion to support entrepreneurship projects worldwide, with half earmarked for women and youth.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
US President Barack Obama delivers a speech on July 25 at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, where he announced a billion dollars of support for new business worldwide.

President Barack Obama has announced the expansion of entrepreneurial centers in Africa that will benefit 1,600 women entrepreneurs.

The entrepreneurial centers are already open in Kenya and Zambia, and will open soon in Mali.

These community centers, offering resources, education, and training, are expected to create 7,194 new jobs and 630 certified female mentors by October 2016, according to the State Department.

Speaking on Saturday at the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, the president announced a billion dollars in new investment for emerging entrepreneurs around the world, with half the money going to support women and young people.

"Women are powerhouse entrepreneurs," said President Obama. "The research shows that when women entrepreneurs succeed, they drive economic growth and invest more back into their families and communities."

Of the $1 billion total investment, $100 million will support Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative, "making more capital available to women-owned enterprises around the world," Obama said.

The President noted entrepreneurship has the potential to be a great equalizer.

"One thing that entrepreneurs understand is, is that you don't have to look a certain way, or be of a certain faith, or have a certain last name in order to have a good idea," he said. "The challenge is – as so many of you know – it’s very often hard to take those first steps," like accessing capital or finding the right mentor. "And it’s even harder for women and young people and communities that have often been marginalized and denied access to opportunities," he added.

NPR reports that Obama has made investing in young African entrepreneurs a focal point of his foreign policy in the region.

"Entrepreneurship offers a positive alternative to the ideologies of violence and division that can all too often fill the void when young people don't see a future for themselves," the president said in his address.

President Obama also said that in order to create successful entrepreneurs, governments also must create transparency, rule of law, and an environment that fights corruption.

A recent report by the World Bank shows that female-run enterprises are steadily growing all over the world, contributing to household incomes and growing national economies. Africa leads in this surging growth, as more sub-Saharan women push themselves out of the shadows to let their entrepreneurial talents shine.

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya is the first summit held in sub-Saharan Africa. Now in its sixth year, the annual summit brings together entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, business leaders, mentors, and high-level government officials.

"Entrepreneurship brings down barriers between communities and cultures," said Obama at the summit, "and builds bridges that help us take on common challenges together."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Obama in Kenya: Why the US is investing $500 million in African women
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today