Saturday 13th December 2014
As we wrap up 2014, GBA wishes to acknowledge the Women’s Market program launches and relaunches that our members have carried out throughout the year. Below is a round-up of four member initiatives that have been implemented this year, with a sneak peek at two upcoming launches.
Recognizing the importance of a Women’s Market program for El Salvador after weVenture gave the country low marks on its competitiveness for women entrepreneurs and on businesses’ access to finance in general, G&T Continental launched G&T Women on March 26. The program is designed to be a comprehensive business solution for women-led SMEs, with a focus on growing businesses with a minimum of 2 years in operation and annual sales of US$1 million to US$7 million.
According to the bank, “We want G&T Women to be an instrument for our clients to grow and for us to grow with them, generating wealth not only in profit, but also in technical and strategic knowledge for managing a business.” Along those lines, G&T Women offers a three-pillar value proposition. The financing aspect of the program includes options for working capital, fixed investments and debt consolidation services. G&T is also offering technical support in the form of advisory and training services conducted through an outside partner, and the final pillar of the CVP is a microsite G&T created to assist customers with networking and marketing.
G&T reports that women-led companies now represent nearly 6 percent of the bank’s clients — up from less than 1 percent prior to the program’s launch. G&T is projecting that G&T Women will account for 15 percent of its total lending portfolio in 2015.
According to Access Bank, The “W” Initiative comprises a comprehensive range of credit products, including special support for women-owned SMEs. The program also features a new online community — The “W” Community — which offers access to seminars and networking events, and allows women to reach out to others for advice on financial and personal matters. A mentoring program for businesswomen is another component of the initiative. Other nonfinancial services include an “early savers club” for children, maternal health and family protection insurance, as well as access to seminars on family planning and parenting.
In November of this year, Bank al Etihad of Jordan announced the launch of its Shorouq Program. The program offers financial and non-financial services for professional women, female business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as services for women planning personal and family finances.
The bank’s General Manager, Nadia al Saeed, says that the program will not only empower women and enhance their economic participation, but will also contribute to Jordan’s growth.
“I strongly believe that empowering women, who make up half of our population, is fundamental to the advancement of the national economy and the establishment of a financially knowledgeable generation of females who believe in themselves,” she said.
Meaning “sunrise” in Arabic, Shorouq seeks to enable women to achieve financial security and freedom. As part of the program, an e-learning channel, available via the Shorouq website, offers knowledge products and a platform for women to network, and exchange expertise and information. Modified financial services include grace periods for Bank al Etihad borrowers on maternity leave, collateral-free loans and a variety of goal-oriented savings products.
To read an excellent, in-depth interview about the Shorouq program with Bank al Etihad’s Nadia al Saeed, click here.
The Akoma program marks UT Bank’s first large-scale foray into nonfinancial services geared toward women. UT Bank is branding Akoma as “the heart,” noting, “Just as the heart pumps oxygenated blood and nutrients for the body to function excellently, women are the center of society and pump life into families, businesses and every core fabric of the society.”
Pakistan’s HBL has initiated its internal launch of its Women’s Market program, which is set to be rolled out externally in Q1 2015. The program will cater to women in business, professional women, women with families and female students by offering products and services intended to save them time, jumpstart their careers, and help them manage personal and family finances. In addition to existing financial offerings, the initiative will offer a Women Entrepreneur Training Program. Ultimately, the program’s vision is to achieve financial inclusion for women in Pakistan and “Be the national champion for women.”
Also launching its Women’s Market program in the new year is BHD León of the Dominican Republic. After years of success in microfinance, where half its clients were women, BHD recognized the potential of a gender focus in other products when it saw the success of its women-targeted credit card, “Tarjeta Mujer,” which it launched in 2012. The card offered additional value such as cervical and breast cancer insurance benefits, home repair services, and vehicle breakdown coverage, all of which proved very popular. The bank’s forthcoming platform will target women-owned SMEs with a holistic value proposition, with the goal of becoming the bank of choice for women in the Dominican Republic.