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Goldman Sachs Noa Meyer and the power of women

18 November 2014

Noa Myer Medium

Do you want to know what investing in the education and empowerment of women can do? Ask Noa Meyer the Global Program Director of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative (pictured above). Seven years ago, she joined the investment bank to help launch10,000 Women, one of the largest corporate investments in women’s economic empowerment at the time, and the outcomes have exceeded expectations.

10,000 Women is based on research by Goldman Sachs, the World Bank and other sources, that suggests that one of the most effective means to promote long-term economic growth is to invest in the financial education and empowerment of women. In addition to creating a larger and more productive workforce, educating women leads to healthier and better educated future generations as women reinvest earnings in the well-being of their families and communities.

According to Noa, 10,000 Women was driven by Goldman Sachs senior leaders who believe that there is no better investment for future economic growth and stronger societies than women. 10,000 Women is a global initiative that provides business and management education, mentoring and networking opportunities to female entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Funded by the Goldman Sachs Foundation, the program is implemented through a global network of academic and non-profit partners, which now numbers around 90 organisations. By the close of 2013, the program had enrolled its 10,000th woman. According to a new report on the initiative released by Babson College, 69 percent of participants were found to have increased their revenue 18 months after graduating and 58 percent had added new jobs. Ninety percent of participants ‘pay it forward’ by mentoring other women.

“I was drawn to the work through my background in government and politics,” says Noa, speaking with Ruby from her New York offices. Noa worked in the Clinton administration and has also worked on two presidential and one prime ministerial campaign in Israel. 

“My first job out of college was in Hillary Clinton’s speech writing office when she was First Lady. She has long been one of the great advocates and proponents for women’s economic empowerment. I did a lot of research on the subject and saw how access to capital in particular can empower women and positively impact the future of their families and communities”

Goldman Sachs Foundation initially invested $100 million in 10,000 Women. In March 2014, the organisation invested a further $50 million in a partnership launched with International Finance Corporation (IFC) to create the first-ever global financing facility for exclusive use by women owned SMEs. The aim is to help100,000 women entrepreneurs around the world access capital. According to Noa, by combining business and management education and the capital that this new partnership will catalyse, 10,000 Women will have a much greater chance of helping more women entrepreneurs succeed and will demonstrate to banks around the world what powerful investments women are.

Certainly the program is high impact and differentiates Goldman Sachs in the market. One of the outcomes toward which Noa is striving is getting banks to recognise the opportunity that exists with women owned small businesses. “Everyone will benefit from banks increasing their lending to women as it will allow them to contribute even more meaningfully to their economies” she says.

Westpac’s work in female empowerment and financial access is well-known and provides a global benchmark to which others aspire, especially through its work with the Global Banking Alliance (GBA) for women and its members.

Westpac’s Director of Women’s Markets Larke Riemer notes, “10,000 Women is entirely in line with how Westpac helps women achieve their business goals including supporting them with education, information and networking opportunities as well as access to finance. We know from years of experience that this package of services can have a significant impact on the growth of women owned businesses.”