Women worldwide face legal and social barriers that limit full economic and political participation, including business ownership, property rights, and access to finance. The Center for Women’s Economic Empowerment (CWEE) advances gender equality in emerging markets to build more inclusive, thriving economies and democracies that deliver for all citizens. Founded within the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), CWEE consolidates nearly four decades of experience to promote women’s leadership and improve their economic conditions through private sector engagement, advocacy, and partnerships with governments and civil society. CWEE supports CIPE’s network of partners in more than 80 countries.
Vision & Mission
The Center for Women’s Economic Empowerment (CWEE) empowers women to overcome economic inequality and lead private sector engagement, entrepreneurial ventures, and partnerships. CWEE strengthens community and global networks of women to advocate for democratic reforms, facilitating more resilient and inclusive economies.
The Center for Women’s Economic Empowerment Works in Three Areas:
1. Forming Coalitions to Bring Businesswomen Together to Advocate for Change
2. Building Leadership Skills for Women’s Business Associations and Women Entrepreneurs
3. Networking and Knowledge-Sharing to Champion Women’s Economic Empowerment
Fostering Ecosystems for Entrepeneurship
Click through for examples of each body of work.
Women's Business Agendas
WBAs are vital advocacy tools for mobilizing the business community and civil society stakeholders. The process includes consensus building, setting legislative priorities, and communicating recommendations to policy makers via public-private dialogue. CIPE has helped launch successful models in many countries, including Bangladesh, Nigeria, Jordan, Pakistan, and Nicaragua.
Women's Business Resource Centers
Lack of business skills and training are among the many challenges for women and girls in developing economies. Through a Women’s Business Resource Center, CIPE and partners provide a safe place where women of all backgrounds can obtain educational opportunities with local universities and train with established entrepreneurs. The pilot program in Papua New Guinea, where domestic violence is high, offers security and free childcare. It is a model for business education and leadership initiatives around the globe.
Women in Business Networking
CIPE helps build capacity within both informal and established networks, through the support of women’s chambers of commerce and business associations. CIPE’s training programs have been duplicated in numerous countries, including several nations in Southeast Asia. CIPE and partners provide technical assistance and small grants support, as well as the opportunity for participants to exchange information and best practices, establish mentorship links between weaker and stronger organizations, and build relationships among female business owners and leaders.
Global Impact and Reach
With initiatives and partnerships across the globe, CIPE’s Center for Women’s Economic Empowerment works on a variety of projects to increase women’s access to entrepreneurship opportunities, and ensure the sustainability of their projects. CIPE’s network spans more than 80 countries.
As a result of Women’s Business Agenda programs, commercial bank loans to female entrepreneurs increased dramatically. Nearly 10,000 small and medium-sized enterprises owned by women have received loans totaling more than $93 million. Over 65% of the country’s banks have desks dedicated to female borrowers.
The country’s Central Bank directed commercial banks to allocate 5% of loan portfolios for women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises. With CIPE assistance, organizations partnered with a leading national bank to train female entrepreneurs on protocols to acquire credit and loan services from the formal banking sector.
The Ministry of Industry established the landmark Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Fund at the urging of the South Asia Regional Network of Women’s Business Organizations. The Fund guarantees low-interest or collateral-free loans, enabling hundreds of women to start or sustain operations, scale up, and increase profitability.
CIPE is a leading partner in the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) program with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative to support women’s business and civil society organizations to join efforts in collective action to advance economic opportunities for women and enable them to lead more resilient and independent lives, free from gender-based violence.
Meet our Director
With over 20 years of experience working on projects for women in the Middle East and North Africa region, Barbara Langley leads CIPE’s Center for Women’s Economic Empowerment.
CIPE Blog Posts
Check out some of our latest blog posts about CIPE’s work on women’s economic empowerment:
- Help Small Businesses to Keep Helping Us
- Supporting Women in the Informal Sector in Jigjiga, Ethiopia
- Women in Associations: CIPE Joins USAID Initiative Supporting Entrepreneurs and Business Associations in Azerbaijan
- Women in the Sahel: Champions for Change
- Reducing Barriers to Women’s Economic Empowerment in Moldova
- The Election of President Maia Sandu: A New Era for Women’s Empowerment in Moldova
- Amplifying the Voice of Asian Women in the Economy
- The Role of Microcredit Loans in Women’s Economic Empowerment
- Voices from the Field Series: Colombia – (Spanish)
- Women’s Representation and Economic Growth
- Social Media Campaign Highlights Papua New Guinea Women’s Business Resource Center
Read more on CIPE’s work empowering women.
Democracy That Delivers - Women's Economic Empowerment
Recent episodes of CIPE’s weekly podcast, Democracy That Delivers, featuring discussions on women’s economic empowerment:
- #266: Women in Business during the Pandemic — Dispatches from Europe & Eurasia with Olga Melniciuc
- #262: Women in Business during the Pandemic — Dispatches from Europe & Eurasia with Angela Gladei
- #259: Women in Business during the Pandemic — Dispatches from Europe & Eurasia with Elen Manukyan
- #256: The Transformative Power of Entrepreneurship for Refugee Women with Nour Akkad
- #255: Women in Business during the Pandemic — Dispatches from Europe & Eurasia with Lilit Asatryan
- #252: Center for Women’s Economic Empowerment (CWEE) 3 Year Anniversary
- #251: The Future of Democracy with Solidarity Center’s Executive Director, Shawna Bader-Blau
- #250: Anti-Corruption’s Past, Present, & Future with Transparency International Chair Delia Ferreira
More episodes on women’s economic empowerment.
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Take a look at our variety of resources on women’s economic empowerment:
- The Impact of COVID-19 and PNG’s Reform Agenda – Article
- Voices of Resilience: COVID-19 and Women Entrepreneurs in Eurasia Essay Series – Articles
- Further Burdened: Women and the Pandemic in Pakistan – Article
- COVID-19’s Arrival in PNG: Impacts on PNG Women-Owned and -Operated MSMEs – Case Study
- Ensuring Revival for the Many – Cottage, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises in Bangladesh – Article
- The Economic Impact of Insecurity in the Countries in the G5 Sahel – Case Study
Further resources regarding women’s economic empowerment: annual reports, evaluations, guides & tools, and more.
Our insights on matters relating to women’s economic empowerment:
- Businesses Must Build Trust for Post-COVID Rebuilding
- Property Rights and Property Markets: Key Ingredients of Inclusive Development
- Power Dynamics: Four Elements That Democracy Support Must Address
- Empowering Women Through Policy Reform: Five Key Lessons
- CIPE Insights with Barb Langley
- Global Entrepreneurship Week: The Connection Between Entrepreneurship and Democracy