As business cultures change and become more diverse and inclusive, it is clear that the rise of women entrepreneurs and female executives shaking up and leading their industries equates to success. When we empower women, we lift up communities.
Yet, the playing field is still not equal between men and women; policy, social customs, and gender biases still hold back many women from reaching their full potentials. However, there are numerous organizations that see the value in investing, supporting, and setting women up for success.
Below is a list of non-profit organizations that help women around the world through resources, mentorship programs, training, micro-financing, and advocacy. These organizations are vital to reshaping business cultures across industries, and for creating a positive and prosperous future for all.
1. National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
NAWBO is a national organization with numerous chapters across the country designed to offer a community for women business owners across all industries. Members of NAWBO share their creativity and “propel each other forward in economic, political, and social spheres of power worldwide.” It has been around since 1975 and has pushed the interests of women business owners nationally and globally.
NAWBO provides resources and referrals to help women grow and succeed in their businesses. Women can further develop their entrepreneurial skills by enrolling in NAWBO Institute, an online learning resource.
Another important way NAWBO supports women business owners is through advocacy. Since its inception, the organization has effected positive change by influencing policy and opinion makers. The advocacy work of NAWBO is significant because it takes the concerns and interests of female business owners to the frontlines of change, creating a business culture that includes and reflects women.
2. The Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE)
CWE provides education, training, technical assistance, microloans, and Women’s Business Enterprise Certification for women entrepreneurs in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
The organization began with the idea and desire to create a non-profit micro-lending institution for women entrepreneurs. The co-founders envisioned building a community of disadvantaged women and women with greater education and experience to help each other out, and that is exactly what they have built.
Whether you’re starting out or already have a business up and running, CWE has courses and resources to help you throughout each stage. They also have Veterans Business Outreach Centers in the New England area that work with veterans, active duty service members, and their families to help them start and run their businesses.
3. Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW)
GROW is an organization that connects entrepreneurs to resources in the Grand Rapids and Lakeshore regions. They support business owners at every stage. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand your current business, GROW will support your company by providing mentors, business coaches, counselors, and services to help you with your company goals. There are also workshops and training courses, business lending services, and networking opportunities.
4. Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC)
With locations across the country, AWBC promotes equity and opportunity for women entrepreneurs. This is achieved through the organization’s 100 Women’s Business Centers, which offer a variety of resources and services to its members. There is even an annual conference that provides training and presentations by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Additionally, AWBC has an advocacy division, which moves to positively effect public policy in order to continue supporting female-owned businesses.
Womentum is a non-profit crowdfunding platform for women entrepreneurs in developing countries. Growth partners, which are other organizations, help vet and select entrepreneurs to be featured on Womentum. Donors who visit the website then choose an entrepreneur to support with as little or as much as they can.
One hundred percent of donations fund these women entrepreneurs, who often don’t have the support of their families and communities. These women are positively promoting change within society and changing the course of life for their children through their businesses; a true example of how lifting up women lifts up communities.
6. Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC)
WBDC is a non-profit organization passionate about advancing the expansion of women and minority-owned businesses. By supporting women and diverse entrepreneurs, WBDC hopes to “strengthen their participation in and impact on the economy.”
Located in nine states across the Midwest, WBDC provides services and programs to support entrepreneurs from a wide variety of backgrounds. Whether you’re a startup or established business, there is something for everyone who wants to grow their business.
7. Women’s Global Empowerment Fund
Women’s Global Empowerment Fund helps women in northern Uganda economically, socially, and politically. The programs offer microfinance opportunities, resource centers, literacy programs, leadership development, the arts, and agriculture.
Those supported by Women’s Global Empowerment Fund sell goods, produce, work in agriculture, cook, clean, and raise up their communities in every way possible. Supporters can take action by volunteering or making a donation to support the fund.
8. Kula Project
Kula operates in Rwanda, supporting women and men working to bring peace and prosperity to their communities. It is founded on the belief that “poverty is not the result of lack of money, but the result of lack of opportunity.” As such, they focus on developing entrepreneurs through relationship building, industry training, life and leadership skills, business investment, and impact measurement.
Supporters can sponsor a fellow to provide the resources each one needs to start and grow her or his business. Those that are not ready to sponsor a fellow can make other donations that contribute to funds for materials needed to start their businesses, such as weaving and tailoring materials, coffee seedling nurseries, or a packet of seeds for a healthy kitchen garden.
Catalyst collaborates with CEOs and leading companies to create and provide workplaces that work for women. The organization does this by creating company cultures that are inclusive and advance women professionally. Through necessary research and tools, Catalyst advises their partners on how to improve company culture.
Positive change is achieved through “reducing unconscious bias, building inclusive cultures, engaging men as champions for women, and addressing workplace issues” driven by gender, race, and ethnicity. Catalyst hosts in-person events as well as webinars.
10. She Runs It
Long before Peggy Olson entered our worlds through Mad Men, She Runs It started supporting women in the advertising industry since the early 20th century. The organization was designed to encourage and promote women in advertising by holding classes and presentations, and also offered scholarships to encourage women to pursue advertising degrees. It has now expanded to all facets of marketing and media.
She Runs It is committed to inclusion and diversity and offers services and resources to its members, including mentorship programs, a job bank, events, development workshops, and networking opportunities. It is currently located in New York and Chicago, with plans to grow nationally.