Sydney, October 2, 2007 — 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
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
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.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth
in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing
private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing
advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC’s
vision is that poor people have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve
their lives. In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional
$3.9 billion through loan participations and structured finance for 299
investments in 69 developing countries. IFC also provided advisory services
in 97 countries. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.