IFC and Westpac Sponsor Workshop to Help Boost Lending to Women Entrepreneurs
International women bankers, including representatives from four African banks and Women’s World Banking affiliate Mi-Bospo, are meeting today to exchange experience and global best practices on serving women entrepreneurs. During the four-day workshop, sponsored by Westpac and IFC, participants will discuss different ways and strategies to cater to businesswomen, an under-tapped segment worldwide.
Westpac launched its “Women in Business Program” in 1999, and has since trained about 35,000 bankers in delivering high-quality services to women. It has also trained thousands of women to grow their businesses successfully. The company is now focusing on sharing its knowledge with emerging market banks that have relatively few female customers. Representatives from IFC client banks, Exim Bank (Tanzania), Access Bank (Nigeria), dfcu Limited (Uganda), Business Partners (South Africa), and Mi-Bospo (Bosnia), are taking part in the workshop.
“To support the Global Banking Alliance for Women, IFC, Westpac, and other banks are finding innovative ways to reach women entrepreneurs and share global best practices,” said Amanda Ellis, Head of IFC’s gender program and founding member of the Global Banking Alliance for Women. “In developing countries, increasing access to finance for women can have an important developmental impact.”
Women are a driving force in the African economy, but their access to finance is still very limited. Women in the region seeking to develop their businesses face many obstacles, including limited ownership of land titles that are required as collateral for loans, little access to financial management training, and lack of experience in dealing with banks.
IFC has provided financing to Exim Bank, Access Bank, and dfcu Limited to extend credit lines to businesswomen. Access Bank has already disbursed over $12 million to smaller enterprises. Since February, Exim Bank Tanzania has reached 8,000 clients through onlending of $4 million by a woman-owned microfinance facility. Also, dfcu has disbursed $2.5 million. For all of the banks, demand has exceeded their expectations, demonstrating the significance of increasing services to this underserved market.
IFC is a part of the World Bank Group’s gender action plan, a $24 million global initiative that promotes women’s rights and gender equality. The initiative also ensures that women and men participate and benefit equally from international financial institution’s investments in developing countries.
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