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Robert Kennedy
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WDI and Goldman Sachs Team Up to Help Women in Rwanda

3/5/2008 --

The William Davidson Institute will help provide scholarships and business training to Rwandan women as part of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women initiative.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The William Davidson Institute has announced a new partnership with The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to bring business education to Rwandan women who have traditionally been denied opportunities in schooling and business.

On March 5, the global banking firm kicked off a new initiative called 10,000 Women. It will provide 10,000 women, predominantly in developing and emerging markets around the world, with a business education. WDI, housed at the Ross School of Business, is one of a select group of leading institutions and business schools partnering with Goldman Sachs.

"In many of these countries, there is very little entrepreneurial activity and very few women receive even a basic education," said Robert Kennedy, executive director of the William Davidson Institute. "A program like this is an investment in the half of the population that has been neglected and whose talents are not being used. Entrepreneurship education gives women a leg up in gaining wealth, becoming independent, and participating in the transformation of their countries."

Goldman Sachs approached WDI several months ago, seeking ideas of ways to work together to positively impact the lives of women in the central African country. The firm knew of the Institute's successes in turning the School of Finance and Banking (SFB) in Kigali, Rwanda, into a regional center of excellence in business education.

That led WDI to make two proposals for the 10,000 Women project, which won approval by Goldman Sachs.

In the first, the Institute will design and implement a program to provide scholarships for 15 women from around Rwanda to enroll in the BBA program at the School of Finance and Banking. The scholarship program will focus on underprivileged but qualified women regardless of age.

A committee of distinguished Rwandans will select the scholarship recipients. All scholarship recipients will receive counseling and mentoring by a program manager and SFB faculty to ensure academic success.

This program comes at a time when the government of Rwanda has substantially reduced funding for scholarships for the 2008 academic year due to budgetary constraints.

The second program, the Goldman Sachs Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, will give participants the knowledge and skills needed to launch or expand business enterprises in Rwanda. Over the course of the six-month program designed and delivered by WDI, 30 women will create business plans that can be transferred from school to the real world immediately.

The women will learn business planning, marketing, finance, accounting and management during training at SFB. They will also be assigned to one of five sector groups based on their industry. Each industry group will have a faculty consultant who will provide hands-on assistance and consulting as the participants proceed in putting together their business plans. At the end of the program, participants will present their business plans to the group and program faculty.

Krishna Govender, the rector at SFB, said the WDI-Goldman Sachs partnership could not have come at a better time.

"At a recent conference on 'Gender, Nation Building and the role of Parliaments,' (Rwanda) President Paul Kagame said 'whether one considers access to education, ownership of business or participation in decision-making, the story is the same—women are excluded from the mainstream.'

"The generous support of the Goldman Sachs Foundation will be particularly relevant to Rwanda, and go a long way in ensuring that women are no longer marginalized but empowered to take up their rightful places in all facets of society," Govender said.

Other partners of Goldman Sachs include Harvard Business School, Wharton, Brown and Columbia. More information about 10,000 Women can be found at 10000women.org.

Written by Dan Shine



For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847, bernied@umich.edu