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Banks Team Up to Support Women Entrepreneurs Worldwide:

Submitted by: International Finance Corporation

Categories: Environment

Posted: Nov 09, 2006 – 03:16 PM EST

 

Global Banking Alliance for Women Holds its Annual Summit

Edinburgh, Scotland, November 9, 2006 - Fifteen banks from around the world met in Edinburgh this week to exchange best practices on supporting women entrepreneurs and ways of reaching into this highly profitable market. This year's annual summit of the Global Banking Alliance for Women was organized by Bank of Scotland, which hosted the event, and by the International Finance Corporation, which acts as the alliance's secretariat. For the first time this year, banks from developing countries participated.

Opening the summit, Cherie Booth, Queen's Counsel, said: "Women all over the world share a common struggle against inequality. We have a duty to help women less fortunate than ourselves, whether at home or overseas." She called on members of the alliance and other financial institutions to extend their outreach to women, not out of duty but enlightened self-interest.

A number of banks from developing countries that recently joined the Global Banking Alliance for Women took part in the summit, including Access Bank, Nigeria; DFCU, Uganda; CIB Egypt; WDB, South Africa; and Exim Bank, Tanzania.

Rachel Kyte, IFC's Director for Environment and Social Development, called on alliance members to use their partnership and advocate for governments to create enabling environments for women entrepreneurs in developing countries. "Women entrepreneurs are an unrealized opportunity for development and a huge untapped market for banks," she said. "Women entrepreneurs hire more women. Women in general invest more of their income in family education and health."

Recent data shows that women across the world are starting new businesses at increasing rates. In some countries, the percentage growth for women-owned businesses is actually greater than for private firms as a whole. But access to finance remains a critical issue for new and growing businesses owned by women. Hence, 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.

Clare Logie, Director of Women in Business at Bank of Scotland, added, "Bank of Scotland Corporate has been committed to supporting women's enterprises for three years now through our unique Women in Business unit. We were delighted to host the Annual GBA Summit this year."

The Global Banking Alliance for Women is a consortium of best practice banks that leverage the women's market for profit as well as social good. It was founded by a group of banks recognized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for their role in advancing the growth of women in business worldwide. The goal of the alliance is to accelerate women's wealth creation, by sharing best practices among financial institutions worldwide. The alliance is housed in IFC's Gender Entrepreneurship Markets unit.

About IFC

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral provider of financing for private enterprise in developing countries. IFC finances private sector investments, mobilizes capital in international financial markets, facilitates trade, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to businesses and governments. From its founding in 1956 through FY06, IFC has committed more than $56 billion of its own funds for private sector investments in the developing world and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. With the support of funding from donors, it has also provided more than $1 billion in technical assistance and advisory services. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

IFC's Gender Entrepreneurship Markets program is a new cross-cutting initiative to mainstream gender issues throughout IFC operations, while helping better leverage the untapped potential of women in emerging markets. Launched in 2004, the program introduces a systematic focus on gender as a comparative advantage for clients. IFC created the initiative to address the economic inefficiencies and social inequities that arise when aspiring businesswomen cannot realize their full potential because of gender inequality.

About Bank of Scotland

Bank of Scotland Corporate, part of HBOS plc, has a reputation for excellence in the provision of corporate finance, delivering innovative funding solutions across a range of markets. The Bank of Scotland Women in Business team was established in 2003 to research, establish, and communicate the issues and challenges pertaining to women business owners. The team is the first of its kind and remains unique in the United Kingdom's financial sector. With the dedicated team and accompanying program, Bank of Scotland is driving forward its commitment to equality and diversity, as well as illustrating its intention to look at things differently.

For more information, please contact:

Rong Barbara Zhang International Finance Corporation

For more from this organization:

International Finance Corporation

 

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