GBA All-Stars Academy Gathers Participants from Asia, Africa, Latin America

Thursday 5th April 2018

All Stars Asia Group PhotoThe first-ever GBA All-Stars Academy in Asia brought 45 financial services professionals from 16 countries to Sri Lanka for an in-depth learning experience on how to develop and implement a holistic value proposition that meets women’s needs. Participants came from across the globe, with representatives from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The weeklong program began with a special policy event in Colombo on March 12, “Exploring the Women’s Market in Sri Lanka and Beyond: Regulatory Environment and Business Opportunities,” hosted by IFC, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the EU-Sri Lanka Development Cooperation and DFAT. The event was attended by All-Stars Academy students as well as stakeholders from Sri Lanka and South Asia, with more than 120 participants in attendance. Mr. K D Ranasinghe, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, delivered the keynote address, outlining the bank’s vision for full financial inclusion of women. Bangladesh Bank then shared their comprehensive set of policies for more support to women business owners. This more instrumentalist approach may provide a useful test case for other Central Banks to learn from.

Economists from Sri Lanka outlined the reality of very low female labor force participation in the country and concentration of women in specific sub-sectors, including farming. With the state of play established, a lively dialogue ensued, with contributions from several bilateral and multilateral donors who are supporting Sri Lanka to move the dial on women’s participation in the economy.

GBA expert practitioners Karyl Akilian from BLC Bank in Lebanon, Julie Baker from NatWest in the United Kingdom and Danysh Hashmi from HBL in Pakistan then laid out commercial solutions with case presentations on how their banks are serving women.

The All-Stars Academy kicked off the following day and continued through the next four days. A highly engaged crowd from 20 banks (7 GBA members and 13 high-potential organizations interested in the Women’s Market) soaked up the latest insights and practical experiences on how to design and implement strategies to target women as a distinct market from GBA expert banks, the IFC and the GBA team. Topics covered included:

  • Building the Business Case
  • Creating the CVP: Financial and Non-Financial Services
  • Developing and Embedding the Program
  • Building the Organizational Culture
  • Finalizing the Strategy

The week concluded with an exciting pitch competition, during which each participating institution had 5 minutes to “sell” their proposed Women’s Market program to senior management. The four finalists were BRAC Bank of Bangladesh, Mercantile Bank of South Africa, Kotak Mahindra Bank of India and VP Bank of Vietnam. After a vote by all participants, Kotak Mahindra Bank was named the winner of the competition.

GBA would like to give special thanks to the IFC for their tremendous support of this event logistically, financially and through the provision of expertise. We would also like to thank FMO for being with us throughout all of our All-Stars Academies. Finally, we would like to thank our expert practitioners from GBA best practice banks NatWest, BLC Bank and HBL, who lead their respective markets in this space and whose generosity in sharing what has worked and what has not worked is unbounded.

The second All-Stars Academy of 2018 will take place in South Africa June 25–29, 2018. Apply now.