Press Releases

IFC Helps Expand Access to Finance for Women Entrepreneurs in Lebanon

In Cairo:
Riham Mustafa
Phone: +20 2 2461 423

Beirut, Lebanon, March 20, 2012—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is helping improve access to finance and supporting the growth of smaller businesses in Lebanon, especially those owned by  women entrepreneurs, through an agreement with BLC Bank.

IFC will support the Bank as it launches an initiative encompassing a host of new products for small and medium enterprises, and a series of services tailored to women-owned businesses. This initiative will make it easier for these enterprises to access the capital they need to expand, creating jobs and spurring economic development in Lebanon.

“Initiatives like these are key to changing attitudes about the role of women in society,” said Maurice Sehnaoui, Chairman and General Manager of BLC Bank. “At the same time, we’re also demonstrating that there is a considerable commercial advantage in providing women with concrete means to access financing for their businesses.”

Women own over 30 percent of all smaller businesses in the developing world, but in Lebanon, only 3 percent of bank loans go to female entrepreneurs.

“Increasing the participation of women in the economy can spur economic growth," said Toyin Adeniji, head of IFC’s Women in Business initiative.  “Extending access to finance for smaller businesses is also key for economic growth and this partnership demonstrates that developing products targeting women-owned businesses is a viable market strategy.”

Over the past year, IFC’s Advisory Services team worked with BLC Bank to design financial services and banking products aimed at small businesses, in particular those owned by women. The work included market research to understand the needs of women-owned businesses and the testing of new product concepts.

The initiative is part of IFC’s efforts in the Middle East and North Africa to spur economic development by supporting the private sector through a combination of advisory services and investments.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, providing advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilizing capital in the international financial markets. In fiscal 2011, amid economic uncertainty across the globe, we helped our clients create jobs, strengthen environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities—all while driving our investments to an all-time high of nearly $19 billion. For more information, visit

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