Caterpillar Is Into Women's Empowerment. Now It's Teaming Up With the State Dept.

No, it's not your imagination: Corporate foundations are getting more sophisticated, and bolder. Safe donations to name-brand charities are giving way to the edgier grantmaking and more of these funders are jumping on the day's hot issues. 

A case in point: The Caterpillar Foundation's support for girl's education and women's empowerment. The foundation has bought into the idea that such efforts are the key to breaking the cycle of generational poverty in developing countries, as well as curbing a host of other ills, like HIV. And it's put grant money into different initiatives, most notably investing in 10x10, a fund that promotes girl's education, particularly through the documentary film, "Girl Rising." 

Now, Caterpillar is sinking $1 million into a partnership with the U.S. State Department to help launch three major women’s entrepreneurship centers in Africa. 

Along with more access to education, helping women start businesses and build wealth is a top priority of empowerment advocates. 

The partnership, announced at the US-Africa Leaders Summit, taps into work the State Department is already doing through its African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) and the Women’s Entrepreneurial Centers for Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE). 

WECREATE works with public and private partners to establish new women’s entrepreneurial centers in Africa and around the world.  

Caterpillar's million bucks will go help three new WECREATE centers in East, Southern and West Africa. Among other things, it expects the centers to help launch over 500 startups and train over 6,000 women entreprenuers.

Of the new partnership, Kathryn Karol, Vice President with responsibility for global government and corporate affairs stated,

At the Caterpillar Foundation, we are focusing our investments to build sustainable, thriving communities around the world. To that end, investing in women and girls is critical. If we invest in her, we help her sisters, brothers, her sons and daughters, her village and the world.