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Thunderbird Partners with Freeport-McMoRan to Amplify Power of Women in Business

April 11, 2019

Academy for Women Entrepreneurs to reach 26 countries

At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, attendees heard what has become an annual refrain: the underrepresentation of women in business is a missed opportunity for both the global economy and society. And certainly it’s a missed opportunity for the women themselves. 

Investment in women generates a multiplier effect and sets a positive example for the next generation of girls and women. According to former World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, fostering women’s labor force participation, business ownership, and improvements in productivity could add billions to the global economy.

While female-run enterprises are steadily growing all over the world, contributing to household incomes and growth of national economies, women still face challenges in maintaining successful enterprises due to lack of funding, fewer skills, and social constraints.

Investment in women generates a multiplier effect and sets a positive example for the next generation of girls and women.– Click to tweet

Yet empowering women has proven to yield undeniable returns.Thunderbird has teamed up with Phoenix-based copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan to do just that – to empower women entrepreneurs by providing a tool that teaches them how to grow a business. 

Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE)

Thunderbird and Freeport-McMoRan play an essential role in a new U.S. Department of State program designed to equip women with the practical skills needed to create sustainable businesses. The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a new initiative supporting women entrepreneurs around the world, is being launched by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). AWE will use DreamBuilder, an online training program developed by Thunderbird in 2011 and funded by Freeport-McMoRan, as its core curriculum. 

Tracy Bame, President of the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation, said the company has a longstanding commitment to support women’s economic empowerment. Their involvement in AWE builds upon that legacy. “Our partnership with Thunderbird on DreamBuilder has allowed us to reach thousands of women every year with free, high quality entrepreneurship training online, scaling into rural and remote areas and across entire countries where we operate.  Available in English and Spanish, DreamBuilder will be the central curriculum of the new Academy, scaling further and reaching more women in new countries with economic opportunity.”

Teaching people how to create something from nothing, driven by their own vision, fueled by their own abilities and determination has always been a part of what Thunderbird does.”– Click to tweet

And Thunderbird’s involvement is a natural, according to Cindy Yeager, Senior Director Latin America. 

“Teaching people how to create something from nothing, driven by their own vision, fueled by their own abilities and determination has always been a part of what Thunderbird does,” said Yeager, who leads Thunderbird for Good's work in Latin America. 

Resources, Networks, Mentors 

AWE will launch in May 2019. The inaugural cohort will include women in 26 countries, primarily in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa, including: The Bahamas, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Teaching people how to create something from nothing, driven by their own vision, fueled by their own abilities and determination has always been a part of what Thunderbird does.”– Click to tweet

The goal for AWE is to reach 2,000 women in 2019 by promoting an enabling environment that reduces barriers and facilitates women’s participation in the economy. AWE supports the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, which is designed to empower at least 50 million women worldwide by 2025 to fulfill their economic potential, and in doing so, create conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all.

AWE is built around three main goals: 

  • to provide online education resources, 
  • to foster networks that support access to mentorships, and 
  • to connect women through existing mentor exchange programs. 

Building Dreams and Growing Business 

AWE will use the DreamBuilder tools, which teach women to create their own business plans, shows them ways to raise capital, and connects them with successful business owners. 

An innovative Business Plan Generator guides the learner in the creation of a business plan throughout the program. DreamBuilder programs are offered in English or Spanish and teach through engaging and interactive courses. DreamBuilder students have come from 41 countries. To date, there are been 41,429 registered learners and 4,258 graduates.

Maximizing the use of  Freeport-McMoRan’s investment of time and resources in conceptualizing the program, conducting needs assessment, scoping the content, and building an implementation framework in partnership with Thunderbird, the State Department’s ECA will be funding translations of DreamBuilder into two new languages, Portuguese and French. This will allow DreamBuilder to reach all of Latin America and most of Africa. 

AWE hasn’t begun training women yet, but DreamBuilder has a successful track record. 

“It allowed me to update my knowledge and to stay ahead,” said Peruvian entrepreneur Maria Del Rosario Rojas Trujillo, owner of Creatoris and a DreamBuilder graduate. The small business owner said that DreamBuilder’s online training helped her polish what she’d begun to learn from own experience. “For me, the most important lesson I learned was how to price my products and everything that I need to consider when I set the price. I keep much more rigorous detail of my costs today.”

U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Todd Chapman said women in Ecuador often had great ideas and motivation, but lacked basic business skills. To fill this gap, Mission Ecuador has conducted DreamBuilder courses in eight cities across Ecuador, reaching more than 200 women. “It’s a really important initiative that the United States government is accentuating, not only to build an economic future for women around the world, but also to narrow the gender gap when it comes to opportunities, income, and education,” he said. 

Teaching people how to create something from nothing, driven by their own vision, fueled by their own abilities and determination has always been a part of what Thunderbird does.”– Click to tweet

DreamBuilder was designed to run smoothly in a low-bandwidth environment, and women who don’t have personal computers can gain access to them through partner organizations within the communities. These local partners also are in charge of recruiting women and implementing the program in their regions. 

Global Networks: Transforming Tomorrow Together  

AWE is built to be sustainable by taking advantage of the State Department’s global network of embassies. Localized partnerships around the world will amplify the course experience and provide opportunities for women to continue advancing as leading entrepreneurs.

Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, explained how it takes a village of mentors to help support emerging leaders from across the globe.

“At companies across the United States, senior staff members are carving real time out of their schedules to mentor,” Royce said. “Beyond sharing their wisdom, the U.S. mentors find they also gain new ideas, skills, and most of all, a network. At exchange events, they meet other mentors in their field and connect with them through the shared bond of mentoring.”

Royce stressed that the program can be as beneficial to corporations and professionals running them as it is to the global entrepreneurs. 

Thunderbird for Good programs: 

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