Enhancing Employment Opportunities for Women: 2003 findings from the third round of the Collaborative Fund for Women’s Economic Development

August 1, 2004  •

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Between 2001 and 2004, the Ms. Foundation, through the Collaborative Fund for Women’s Economic Development (CFWED), provided funding and technical support to eight women-run organizations across the country that manage social purpose businesses to create jobs and promote women’s economic empowerment.

Like others, these social-purpose businesses pursue a “double bottom line,” creating both social and financial returns through their business activities. Operating in a range of industries that tend to employ low-income women, CFWED-supported firms differ from traditional for-profit firms in their interest in locating in low-income communities, creating jobs that pay higher wages, offering cooperative ownership opportunities, or providing better hours and benefits. In addition, many of the CFWED grantees also seek to pursue additional social and economic outcomes such as: promoting women’s leadership development; providing a higher quality of care to the ill, elderly or children; building businesses that support and reinforce the cultures and skills of key ethnic communities; or providing their services in an environmentally sensitive way.

This report describes the business performance of these firms and summarizes key employment outcomes experienced by workers.