Exxon Mobil Corp. pledged $1 million at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to invest in the expansion of high impact, sustainable technologies that advance women economically in the developing world.
The program is expected to directly benefit more than 13,500 people, with indirect benefits reaching more than 475,000 people in the next two years.
The new commitment will help innovators in scaling up technologies that benefit women economically and were identified through ExxonMobil’s partnership with Ashoka’s Changemakers in the Women | Tools | Technology: Building Opportunities & Economic Power Challenge, launched at last year’s CGI. The new financial support from ExxonMobil is expected to help provide consulting support, facilitate the innovators’ connections with other social entrepreneurs, business and technical experts and identify best practices.
“The programs identified through the 2009 commitment use technology to improve the lives of women in developing countries,” said Suzanne McCarron, general manager, ExxonMobil public and government affairs. “By further supporting these programs, we will be advancing technologies that are proven to create more economic opportunities for women and, as a result, strengthen their communities.”
A significant barrier to economic advancement is a lack of access to energy. An estimated 1.6 billion people in the world have no access to electricity and approximately 2.4 billion rely on biomass fuels like wood, charcoal or dung for cooking and heating. This undermines the productivity, education, health and safety of these people-70% of whom are women and girls.
ExxonMobil grants will be provided to select innovators who advance technologies to increase access to energy through innovative sources. These technologies help women increase their productivity and effective participation in the economy. The grant recipients include Kopernik, Solar Electric Light Fund, Solar Sister, Productive Agricultural Linkages and Marketing Systems (P.A.L.M.S) and smallsolutions.
“My country will be a better place when more women have access to technologies,” said Leticia Brenyah, an ExxonMobil-supported innovator from Ghana who spoke at CGI as part of the meeting’s Empowering Girls and Women focus area. “When women thrive economically they improve their lives, families and country.”
As part of its support for the programs identified through the Women | Tools | Technology program, ExxonMobil will work with partners Ashoka’s Changemakers, the International Council for Research on Women and the Thunderbird Emerging Markets Laboratory (TEM Lab) to support the further development of a number of concepts involving the use of innovative technologies to enable women’s access to energy in a sustainable and scalable manner.
TEM Lab will deploy on the ground consulting teams to help diagnose business problems and opportunities with the goal of strengthening program effectiveness.
“We are excited to enter into this meaningful partnership which leverages business and technology expertise to enable innovators to improve their capacity,” said Angel Cabrera, president of Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Innovators will have the opportunity to engage with experts at CGI and utilize the Ashoka’s Changemakers Discovery Framework to better understand the challenges and opportunities in bringing their concepts to scale.
“The passion and new ideas represented by the solutions sourced through last year’s commitment and the subsequent Women | Tools | Technology: Building Opportunities & Economic Power Challenge represent a powerful new force for advancing women’s economic opportunities globally,” said Bill Drayton, chairman and CEO of Ashoka. “I look forward to not only the deep and lasting impact these leaders will create, but also the future generations of changemakers they will inspire along the way.”
As part of the 2009 CGI Commitment, the research report, “Bridging the Technology Divide,” by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), provided insights into how technology can help advance women economically. ICRW will continue to provide monitoring and evaluation support for the commitment activities.
“A year later, it is great to see how innovators have turned good intentions into actions that effectively integrate women in various stages of the technology lifecycle to give them the tools they need to thrive,” said Sarah Degnan Kambou, president of ICRW.