Thunderbird a Partner in Groundbreaking $1.5 Billion Commitment to Action Announced at Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting

September 25, 2013

Thunderbird School of Global Management and other partners have joined WEConnect International and Vital Voices Global Partnership in taking a market-driven approach to advancing women-owned businesses in global supply chains, announcing a Commitment to Action today at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York City. The Commitment to Action will track and measure US$1.5 billion in global contract opportunities for women-owned businesses based outside of the U.S., and develop a more effective and efficient channel to identify and scale high growth women-owned businesses.

“Smart companies make strategic investments in women,” said Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and Co-founder of WEConnect International. “The Commitment to Action partners recognize the power of collaboration - leveraging respective expertise and resources across the business development lifecycle, to strategically engage, develop and integrate competitive women-owned businesses into global value chains.”

Added Vital Voices President and CEO Alyse Nelson, “What we know from our 15 years of working with women entrepreneurs in all regions of the world is that they provide innovative solutions to economic problems. By supporting 15,000 women-owned businesses, our committed corporate and public sector partners will ensure that we are mobilizing the power of women’s economic entrepreneurship, and providing measurable and lasting economic growth.” The Commitment to Action anticipates having direct impact in many countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe.

Commitment to Action partners joining Thunderbird, WEConnect International and Vital Voices include corporate, government, nonprofit and multilateral institutions: Accenture LLP, The Boeing Company, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, The Coca-Cola Company, DLA Piper, EY, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, IBM, Intel Corporation, The International Center for Research on Women, IBM, Johnson Controls Inc., Marriott International Inc., McLarty Global Fellows, Pfizer Inc., The Rockefeller Foundation, The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, The U.S. Department of State, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. They have committed to collaborate across the small business development lifecycle to address critical areas of need, with each partner focusing on the specific interventions that are most likely to yield the best long-term results for women business owners. 

The partners commit to track and measure at least US$1.5 billion in combined money spent by commitment makers on women-owned businesses based outside the U.S. from 2013 to 2018. The partners also commit to implementing supplier-readiness initiatives including mentoring and targeting at least 15,000 women-owned businesses based outside the U.S. from 2013 to 2018.

Numerous studies show one of the smartest investments in long-term growth and development is in women’s empowerment. Yet despite strong worldwide economic growth over the last 20 years, women-owned businesses are still estimated to account for less than one percent of large corporate spend globally, representing a considerable market opportunity for women entrepreneurs who are able to expand the scope and scale of their businesses.

Thunderbird’s social impact initiative, Thunderbird for Good, exists to help change that statistic. Thunderbird for Good focuses on educating businesswomen in developing countries and has helped provide business training to more than 89,000 women in 25 countries since 2005. 

“We are proud to be a part of this commitment,” said Kellie Kreiser, Director of Thunderbird for Good. “Thunderbird’s mission is to create sustainable prosperity worldwide. We work to achieve that mission by educating the students in our degree programs and sending them out to work all over the globe, but also by reaching across borders and providing women with little resources the tools they need to make their dreams of owning a successful business and providing for their families a reality.”


Media wishing to request interviews from Thunderbird School of Global Management should contact:Carol Sunnucks at

Media wishing to request interviews about the overall commitment should contact:Nicolla Hewitt Communications at or Rebecca Hamilton at

About WEConnect International
WEConnect International, a corporate-led non-profit, helps build sustainable communities by empowering women business owners to succeed in local and global markets. WEConnect International has since 2009 provided business education, certification, and business connections to companies based outside the U.S. that are at least 51 percent owned, managed and controlled by one or more women. WEConnect International corporate members represent $700 billion in annual purchasing power and are true pioneers in inclusive sourcing and global supplier development. “Buying for Impact: How to Buy from Women and Change Our World,” is the new WEConnect International book on women business owners and how to support and leverage their potential to create a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. For more information about WEConnect International, visit:

About Vital Voices Global Partnership
 Vital Voices Global Partnership is a leading non-governmental organization that identifies, invests in and brings visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities. Founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 1997, the organization trains and mentors women leaders as agents of transformative change in economic development, human rights and political participation. The Vital Voices Global Leadership Network includes more than 14,000 leaders representing 144 countries who have trained and mentored 500,000 additional women and girls in their communities. Visit to learn more. 

About Thunderbird School of Global Management
Thunderbird is the world’s No.1-ranked school of international business with nearly 70 years of experience in developing leaders with the global mindset, business skills and social responsibility necessary to create real, sustainable value for their organizations, communities and the world. Dedicated to preparing students to be global leaders and committed global citizens, Thunderbird was the first graduate business school to adopt a Professional Oath of Honor. Thunderbird’s global network of alumni numbers 40,000 graduates in 148 nations worldwide. The school is sought out by graduate students, working professionals and companies seeking to gain the skills necessary for success in today’s global economy. For more about Thunderbird, visit For more about Thunderbird for Good, visit 

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 400 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $73.5 billion.

CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world, and, this year, CGI Latin America, which will bring together Latin American leaders to identify, harness, and strengthen ways to improve the livelihoods of people in Latin America and around the world. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at