Woman entrepreneur working on a project.
Despite their success, women entrepreneurs continue to face many barriers. Photo: Pixabay.

Mary Kay Inc. celebrates female entrepreneurship

The company made a special recognition during Women's Entrepreneurship Day.


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The business development firm that operates in nearly 35 countries promoting the economic empowerment of women and gender equality, reaffirmed its global commitment to women entrepreneurs, highlighting the associations that promote this spirit.

Within the framework of the celebration of Women's Entrepreneurship Day, Mary Kay highlighted collaborations with organizations focused on dismantling barriers to women's economic empowerment and strengthening the inclusion of women in the business ecosystem.

Deborah Gibbins, Chief Operating Officer at Mary Kay Inc, stated:

Inspired by our mission as an entrepreneurship development company founded by a woman for women, we believe we must invest in and empower women to realize the full benefits of their economic participation not only on the economy but on society at large.

Challenges of female entrepreneurship

According to figures from the Harvard Business Review released by Mary Kay, women entrepreneurs stand out as follows:

  • Women tend to reinvest up to 90% of earnings back into their families and local communities.
  • Women-owned businesses, while disproportionately affected by economic downturns, are resilient, agile, and sustainable.
  • Women-owned businesses often respond to crises through innovation that addresses the most pressing global challenges, including climate change and biodiversity loss.

Despite these data, women continue to face historical barriers worldwide, such as unequal access to capital, lack of professional education, little inclusion in the global value chain, and restricted access to markets to offer their products and services.

Other data quoted by Mary Kay that reflect the uneven landscape for women entrepreneurs:

  • The 2022 Women, Business and the Law Report found that nearly 2.4 billion women of working age still do not enjoy the same economic rights as men.
  • The 2022 Global Gender Gap Report indicated that it will take about 151 years to close the gender gap in economic participation and opportunity.

Support from Mary Kay Inc.

Launched in 2021, Mary Kay's 10-year sustainability strategy, “Enriching Lives Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow,” advances a strong gender equality perspective.

Amid its commitment to empower 5 million women around the world by 2030 through key initiatives and partnerships, the company highlighted some of its partners that foster female entrepreneurship around the world:

1. The SDG Pilot Village Project in China — A Women-focused Poverty Reduction Development Project

— Recognizing that improving the lives of rural women is key to fighting poverty and achieving sustainable development, UNDP China and Mary Kay, in collaboration with the Chinese government, the public sector and NGO partners, launched the SDG Pilot Village Project in Waipula, Yunnan Province, China in 2017.6 The joint project dismantled the barriers to women’s entrepreneurship through the provision of social protection and the creation of green entrepreneurial opportunities supported by efforts to enhance women’s leadership in community decision-making fora.

— As a result of this gender focused project (Phase I: 2017-2021):

  • The local poverty rate in the village fell from 28% in 2017 to 0% in 2020.
  • Through training and capacity-building, 60 households and 193 individuals living under the poverty line were lifted out of poverty by 2020.
  • 210 seasonal migrant workers and 120 long-term migrant workers, the majority of which comprised women, were able to return home to a job or start their own business and be reunited with their children and families.
  • 607 local women found employment and raised their income with some emerging as community leaders, taking up roles as members of the village committee and managers in local hospitality and the arts.
  • People’s per capita income grew to be RMB 14,128/$2,107 in 2021.
  • The project advanced 12 of the 17 SDGs.

2. The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge — Supporting Women Social Entrepreneurs

— Since 2019, Mary Kay has been a core partner of The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge. An initiative co-led by Vital Voices and the Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University, the annual competition recognizes 5 women entrepreneurs advancing the SDGs in their communities and provides awardees with capacity-building training sessions and connections with business experts from around the world.

3. The Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator

— In 2019, together with 6 UN agencies, Mary Kay incepted the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator (WEA) with a mission to create an enabling eco-system that works for women entrepreneurs.

— The 6 UN Agencies comprising WEA are: International Labour Organization (ILO), International Trade Centre (ITC), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), UN Global Compact (UNGC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women.

“We are transforming the landscape for women entrepreneurs by addressing the barriers they face through key partnerships aimed at disrupting the status quo,” added Gibbins.

To learn about the outstanding achievements of the start-up accelerator, click here.


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