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
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
“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.
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 www.ifc.org.