EnergyFactor By ExxonMobil | Pespectives has a new home

Mobile phones, upward mobility

Readers: Suzanne McCarron, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation, was at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City last week to help announce a major research grant as part of our Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative. Read on to learn more about the grant and our new partnership. – Ken

For people in countries such as the United States, mobile phones today are simply fundamental to our way of life. In fact, for many, it’s hard to remember a time without them.

While mobile technologies have created new opportunities for social interaction and daily convenience, it is perhaps in business and commerce that they have the potential to make their greatest contribution to society.

But when it comes to women’s use of mobile technologies in countries around the world, there’s still a lot we don’t know. Those working on global projects to empower women economically have heard stories about how mobile phones have allowed women to start businesses, participate in banking, get better healthcare for their children and accomplish a variety of other important activities that may not have been possible before.

This is good news, because research has shown that when women participate in local economies, communities are generally stronger for it.

The challenge is that there has been very little effort to develop systematic documentation on best practices in global mobile phone usage among women – until now.

Last week, the ExxonMobil Foundation announced it is providing $1.5 million to the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women for research into how mobile phone technology can enhance women’s economic opportunities and entrepreneurship.

The research will take place in three countries: Nigeria, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates. Our goal is to identify various mobile services and usage patterns that have been successful in helping women entrepreneurs enhance their businesses, as well as to determine the barriers to expanding access and ways to overcome them.

Ultimately, we want to find out what’s working for women in different economies in the hopes of influencing better mobile technology programs for women in the future.

The ExxonMobil Foundation has undertaken this project with the Cherie Blair Foundation because of our similar efforts to provide women entrepreneurs all over the world with access to business development support, networks, finance, and technology. In the last six years, ExxonMobil and the ExxonMobil Foundation have invested more than $47 million to support the economic advancement of women, to the benefit of tens of thousands of women around the world.

Women can and should be catalysts for economic development in countries around the world. We’re proud to join the Cherie Blair Foundation in this latest effort.

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