International Finance Corporation and Kauffman Foundation Launch Joint Studies on Initiatives to Promote Women’s Access to Finance
Washington DC, January 10, 2006—The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, and the Kauffman Foundation, a U.S. foundation focusing on entrepreneurship and education, today announced the launch of two parallel studies to examine initiatives that promote women business owners’ access to finance. The research aims to uncover, share, and replicate best practices and lessons learned.
The studies will gather detailed information on specific initiatives throughout the world, with a focus on emerging markets. The IFC study will focus on programs and initiatives internationally, while the Kauffman Foundation’s study will focus on efforts in the United States. The studies will examine and report on initiatives in the banking community, in the public sector at the national level, and among nongovernmental organizations. The resulting reports will not only profile best practices, but will also analyze gaps in the marketplace and offer programmatic and policy recommendations.
Recent data shows that women around the world are starting new businesses at increasing rates. In some countries, the percentage growth for women-owned businesses exceeds the overall growth among firms. However, access to finance remains a critical issue for the new and growing businesses owned by women. For this reason, in addition to financial institutions paying greater attention to women as a market, many government agencies and private sector groups have begun to focus on this issue. They are developing an increasing range of programs, including loans, loan guarantees, loan pools, financial literacy training, and technical assistance to serve this growing market.
Rachel Kyte, Director of Environmental and Social Development at IFC, noted, “The findings of these two studies will help meet the increasing demand for more research on women’s entrepreneurship, and will support businesswomen by promoting successful and replicable access to finance initiatives.”
Added Maggie Kenefake of the Kauffman Foundation, “We hope that this project will serve to inform and advance the work of the many public policy makers, financial service providers, and entrepreneurial support organizations that actively support women entrepreneurs.”
Banyan Global, a woman-owned firm headquartered in New York, was selected as the firm to conduct the international research for the IFC; and the Urban Institute will conduct the study in the United States for the Kauffman Foundation. The results of the two coordinated efforts will be showcased at an international conference, which will take place in South Africa in November 2006, coinciding with the IFC’s 50th Anniversary celebration.
The IFC effort will be managed by the institution’s new Gender Entrepreneurship Markets (GEM) initiative. Launched in December 2004, GEM is a cross-cutting initiative to mainstream gender issues across IFC operations, while at the same time helping better leverage the untapped potential of women as well as men in emerging markets. Through its advisory services, GEM will support larger IFC clients by advising on investment projects. It will help smaller businesses by assisting women’s business associations and sponsoring specialized programs. The primary focus of GEM’s work for the first two years is Sub-Saharan Africa. For additional information about IFC-GEM’s programs and activities, visit www.ifc.org/gem.
The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing and transition countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY05, IFC has committed more than $49 billion of its own funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held for participants in loan syndications. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City is a private, nonpartisan foundation that works with partners to advance entrepreneurship in America and improve the education of children and youth. The Kauffman Foundation was established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman. It is the largest private foundation in the United States focused on the study and encouragement of entrepreneurship, and it focuses its operations and grantmaking on two areas: entrepreneurship and education. Information about the Kauffman Foundation is available at www.kauffman.org
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