FedEx has awarded a grant to a nonprofit focused on micro-finance to create a digital version of its small business education program in Colombia. With the grant, Accion will augment the logistic giant’s Dialogue on Business (DOB) program, which the company says will make the program cheaper, more flexible, and more easily accessible for by a larger number of the lower-class entrepreneurs it is targeting.
Jenny Robertson, director of global citizenship at FedEx notes that she hopes the program in Colombia will specifically be able to help those who have been traditionally left out of the business world. “Our objective in that area is to advance women and minority-owned small businesses globally, helping them access new markets and grow,” said Robertson.
In addition to women and minority communities, the program will look to help a low-income, low-literacy audience with the goal of improving their business skills. Colombia is a particularly good market to begin in, says Accion, because a large portion of the population is either self-employed or works in the informal sector. If the initiative is successful, the plan is to expand it throughout Latin America.
“Creating a digital version of the Dialogue on Business program holds significant promise for expanding business literacy and capability, in Colombia, across Latin America, and potentially even globally,” said Michael Schlein, president and CEO at Accion. “FedEx’s support — and their shared commitment to serving small businesses and entrepreneurs — will enable us to expand access to this essential training for the many micro-entrepreneurs who could benefit from business skills training and education, but are constrained by time and distance.”
Since the Dialogue on Business was launched in 1999, more than 830,000 entrepreneurs have been trained in 16 countries. Nearly two-thirds (62%) have been women, who have benefitted from lessons on topics including “Starting a Business,” “Improving Business Competitiveness,” and “Making the Most of Money.” Depending upon the location, the classes are available in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.