GBA Newsletter: April 2009

Monday 13th April 2009

GBA Newsletter

Letter from the Chair

The economic crisis continues to have an impact on all of us, especially those of us in the financial sector. Our programs are vital for women entrepreneurs to survive in this economic turmoil. Now more than ever we can collaborate and share with one another so our programs deepen and broaden.

I would like to encourage each of you to share your experiences and send along what you are discovering in your markets so that other members can learn and contribute in kind.

Certainly last month being International Women’s Day generated a lot of news worthy articles on why women must lead, as well as many research reports relevant to women’s economic issues. Again, if you have read an article or report that you feel would be of interest to other GBA for Women members, please send along and we will post them on our website.

Our member in Nepal has an amazing story in this issue on a major collaboration for International Women’s Day that you will find quite inspiring.

The Member Spotlight this month is from one of our newest members, NBS Bank in Malawi. Congratulations on your commitment to developing more women entrepreneurs with training and access to loans for women to grow their businesses.

I am especially pleased to be able to host Ms. Rachel Kyte, Vice President, Business Advisory Services, IFC, when she visits Australia at the end of March.

All the best to all of you, and please let us know how we can serve you during these difficult times.


Larke Riemer Head of Women’s Markets
GBA Board Chair Westpac Banking Corporation

Member Spotlight

An interview with Gilford Kadzakumanja, Deputy CEO, NBS Bank, Malawi

Question 1: Please share some general information on NBS and why dedicating a specific program towards women in business addresses your business goals.

GK: NBS Bank is the fourth largest of the eleven commercial banks in Malawi. Almost all these banks focus on retail and corporate banking, with less emphasis on “small & medium” business banking. NBS Bank decided, as one of its growth strategies as well as the need to diversify its lending portfolio, to focus on Small & Medium Enterprise banking. In collaboration with IFC and the GEM Program, the bank started to run a training program for women entrepreneurs called “NBS Bank Women Entrepreneurs Program”. The first training was conducted from 30th June 2008.

Question 2: Does your program have a name and have you dedicated resources in your bank. What is your marketing program?

GK: Wezi Chavula is the dedicated resource, being supervised by Gilford Kadzakumanja, the Deputy CEO. We have publicize the program in the print media a number of times. We have also produced brochures for the product and we intend to have “open day” interactive sessions with women entrepreneurs in all the regions (South, Central & Northern Regions). Later in the Year we will make regional “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” awards, which will be heavily publicized.

Wezi Chavula, Women Entrepreneurs Program Manager

Question 3: What have been the results to date? Loans / deposits/ referrals/ growth in women’s businesses.

GK: So far we have trained seven groups of women, totaling 153 in number. 186 women have since obtained loans to the tune of USD $467,660. Most of the women we have trained say that the training has improved their business management skills, increased their confidence to approach the bank, and they have managed to access funds and grow their businesses, thereby improving their livelihood.

Question 4: Have there been any surprises or things that you did not anticipate?

GK: What really surprised us was the overwhelming demand for training and the enthusiasm the women showed. It was unprecedented! We are happy we have been able to help the women realize their dreams and make a difference in the communities we have chosen to serve. We will remain committed to this noble cause.

Advisory Board News

Julie R. Weeks joins our Board of Advisors

We are pleased to welcome Julie Weeks to our Advisory Board, and we look forward to applying her extensive background in researching women entrepreneurs’ markets across the globe as we increase our ability to mainstream the growth of women in business worldwide.

Julie has over 25 years’ experience in the fields of research design and analysis, public policy, and women’s enterprise development – most recently as Executive Director of the National Women’s Business Council, and as Managing Director and Director of Research for the Center for Wom.en’s Business Research in the U.S.

Currently, she is an entrepreneur who has established her own business, Womenable.

“Womenable is focused on one thing: enabling women’s entrepreneurship worldwide!”, says Julie.

Womenable – established in 2005 – is a research, program and policy development consultancy whose mission is to enable women’s entrepreneurship worldwide. Womenable works with the stewards of women’s entrepreneurship – policy makers, multi-lateral organizations, corporate decision makers, entrepreneurial support organizations, and the women’s business community – on efforts that will result in better systems to support the growth in the number and economic clout of women business owners.

For more information on Julie and Womenable, please visit her website:

International Women’s Day Celebrated Nationally by GBA member in Nepal

by Pramila Acharya Rijal, President, Federation of Women Entrepreneurs’ Associations of Nepal


The plight of a woman in South Asia is not unheard-of in patriarchal societies such as those in the South Asia Region. Empowerment of women in South-Asia has remained a challenging issue. It has received increasing attention in the region especially in the last two decades.

Despite challenging circumstances, women have, over the past two decades, made substantial headway in social, economic and political development. International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8 by women worldwide by holding events to honor women.

Realizing the importance of networking among South Asian woman entrepreneurs, a three-day event focusing on “Solidarity of South Asian Women for peace, prosperity and a progressive society” was organized on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The three-day event was well attended; women from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan participated. This event was a platform for women from all seven countries to come together as a unified force to honor and celebrate achievements in solidarity.

What’s New: Research and articles

Groundbreakers: Using the strength of women to rebuild the world economy by Ernst & Young.Click Here to download/read this PDF report


New dates just announced
Mark your Calendars!
Host: Standard Chartered
Place: Singapore
New! Dates: October 28th – October 30th, 2009
More details will be sent as the date approaches.