BLC Case Study Highlights Women’s Market Success Story in Lebanon

Wednesday 13th May 2015

GBA Newsletter

BLC Case Study Highlights Women's Market Success Story in LebanonGBA is proud to announce that the second in its Case Study series on members’ Women’s Market success stories will be released in June. The report, on Lebanese member BLC Bank, focuses on the bank’s use of its We Initiative Women’s Market program as a competitive differentiator and the incredible growth BLC has experienced through the platform. Below, we offer a high-level preview of the profile.

BLC Bank: Profiting Through Strategic Differentiation

BLC Bank of Lebanon prides itself on its ability to provide innovative financial solutions for its customers — an ability that has allowed the bank to continuously outperform its competitors. When BLC began to look at the Women’s Market in 2010, the bank quickly recognized the market’s potential not only as a growth opportunity, but also as a competitive differentiator. BLC Bank became a member of the Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA) the following year, committing to launch a program that targets the female economy. Today, BLC Bank has thoroughly embedded its We Initiative program into its corporate culture, and has also committed to empowering women in the workplace, marketplace and community via the UN Global Compact Women’s Empowerment Principles — the first bank in the MENA region to do so. BLC Bank’s Women’s Market strategy has become a competitive edge for the bank, and its best practices have become a model for banks around the world.

Focus on Women

Fifty-one percent of Lebanon’s 4 million inhabitants are women, and females now make up more than half of the country’s university graduates. However, women currently represent only 27% of the country’s work force. According to Findex, while 49% of Lebanese men reported having an account at a formal financial institution in 2011, only 26% of women did. Women own 33% of businesses in Lebanon, yet only 3% of bank loans go to female entrepreneurs.

Observing this gap, BLC Bank set out to find new ways to reach this untapped market. The bank began its journey by becoming a member of the GBA. Drawing on ideas it learned from fellow Alliance members and with support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), BLC Bank launched its Women Empowerment program, We Initiative, in 2012.

In only 2 years, BLC’s We Initiative has generated significant business returns, currently representing more than 18% of the bank’s profits, with double-digit growth projected for the next 3 years. Additionally, We Initiative has allowed BLC Bank to position itself as the bank of choice for women in Lebanon and as a global example for Women’s Market best practices.

What Other Banks Can Learn from BLC:

  1. Integrate, don’t segregate: Integrating the Women’s Market value proposition across all departments of the bank was a critical success factor for the program.
  2. Training, training, training: Cultural barriers and conscious and unconscious biases could only be eliminated through extensive training at all levels of the organization.
  3. Establish a comprehensive performance management system from the start: By working with the bank’s existing culture of sales targets, BLC was able to incentivize women as a valuable and profitable segment.

For a deeper look at how BLC has successfully captured the Women’s Market, including insights on the bank’s Customer Value Proposition, how it has achieved internal alignment, measuring program results and much more, look for the official launch of the BLC Case Study in next month’s GBA newsletter.

The Alliance will be releasing its third member Case Study, on Chase Bank Kenya, at the 2015 Summit in São Paulo, Brazil, which will be hosted by Itaú Unibanco. You can access the Alliance’s first Case Study, on founding member bank Westpac, here.