Today, on International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the many accomplishments of women around the world. But as we recognize these achievements, we are also reminded that progress toward closing the economic gender gap remains slow, and in fact, when it comes to income and employment, the gender gap has widened in the last year. In 2015, the World Economic Forum predicted that gender parity would not be achieved until 2133, and in 2016, they updated their projections to 2186. And so, this day is more than a time to simply celebrate—it’s a call to help forge a more gender-inclusive world.
Economic parity for women is an issue near to our hearts at cabi. At the core of our business is a belief in the transformative power of women helping women, and it was in this spirit that we proudly launched our W.E. are cabi Program in 2015, a one-for-one microlending program that connects our cabi entrepreneurs to female entrepreneurs in the developing world through Opportunity International, a global nonprofit microfinance organization. As each cabi Stylist starts her business, we fund a small business loan for a woman building her own business, making them “sister entrepreneurs,” growing their businesses together.
With a highly sustainable microfinance program, Opportunity International has been a leader in the charge for gender parity, providing low-risk small business loans, mainly to women (94%), in developing countries with solid business plans. They are then integrated with a supportive Trust Group to ensure their loan is paid back at a 98% success rate. That paid-back loan is reinvested many times over, ensuring growth of impact over time.
For women living in the endless cycle of poverty, a small business loan is an open door to a new life. In keeping with our training philosophy for cabi Stylists, our Opportunity International sister entrepreneurs receive tools and training in leadership, marketing, and sales, and have the relational support of mentors and peers, as we believe it is in community that women reach their greatest potential for success. We made a decision to partner with Opportunity very pointedly, because we want cabi to be an organization that not only impacts the lives of women entrepreneurs across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. through a liberating opportunity, but we want our impact to extend across the world. We believe that when women entrepreneurs succeed in developing countries, not only does the global economy benefit, the value of their contributions is more visible to all.
Meet a few of our Sister Entrepreneurs around the globe. We’re honored to come alongside these women who have started a small business in order to #BeBoldforChange in their own communities.