Taking women-owned businesses global in times of turmoil

Expanding UPS’s Customer-First Women Exporters Program
CatalystDesktop.jpg CatalystTablet.jpg CatalystMobile.jpg

UPS is committed to moving our world forward by helping small and medium businesses engage in trade. With a focus on women-owned SMBs, UPS and The UPS Foundation launched the Women Exporters Program (WEP) in 2018.

Through partnerships with government agencies, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders, UPS leverages influence and education to help women around the world overcome barriers to free trade.

“We started with two main partnerships when we launched the program – the International Trade Center based in Geneva and their She Trades initiative. The other partnership was the USAID under the Women's Global Development Prosperity Initiative,” said Maria Luisa Boyce, vice president of international trade and Latin America for UPS global public affairs. “Today, we have more than seven partnerships.”

But when the pandemic hit, WEP’s plans for workshops and in-person training had to be suspended and the program was thrust into the virtual arena.

Program administrators also realized women entrepreneurs were disproportionately affected by the pandemic because they became caregivers as well as breadwinners.

“We had to stop and reassess,” Maria Luisa said. “What were the needs of the women entrepreneurs? What support could we provide to help them deal with the crisis and be able to survive?”

The reassessment led to a renewed focus in three areas:

  • Training specific to e-commerce and digital trade
  • Access to financing
  • Resilience training and tools

“We also said we cannot just limit it to women. We have to expand it to all the small and medium businesses, because all of them were hurting,” Maria Luisa said. “So we launched global webinars and training in all parts of the world for small businesses.”

To date, WEP has trained more than 6,000 women and small business owners around the world.

Recently, Laura Lane, UPS chief corporate affairs, communications and sustainability officer, and Nikki Clifton, president of social impact and The UPS Foundation, talked about WEP and its mission to empower women around the globe at an International Women’s Day event sponsored by Catalyst.  

Related Stories