GBA All-Stars Academy Gathers Record Number in MENA

Wednesday 10th April 2019

The Central Bank of Egypt hosted the 6th edition of the Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA) All-Stars Academy program, bringing 100 practitioners to Cairo from March 24th to 28th, 2019. Among the participants were representatives from Morocco, Libya, Sudan, Palestine and Iraq, as well as Sub-Saharan African countries such as Burundi, Malawi, Zambia and the Gambia. CEOs from 11 Egyptian banks were also in attendance at the All-Stars Academy’s opening session.

“We know that bankers can persuade other bankers to take on the Women’s Market. The All-Stars Academy MENA brought experienced instructors representing profitable and comprehensive programs that support women of all segments so participants could learn to design and implement their own profitable strategies that help them become the bank of choice for women – which in turn will help make them become the bank of choice overall,” Inez Murray, Chief Executive Officer of the GBA, said. “The Central Bank of Egypt has given us the opportunity to work with Egyptian banks and banks from across the MENA region, where there’s a vast untapped market for financial services for women of all segments of society. There is a huge amount of talent in these banks and a strong political will among their leaders to support this market. The sharing of best practices – such as those we’ve seen here from Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank al Etihad and BLC Bank – across countries can lead other countries and banks to take on this market.”

Instructors at the training highlighted how the All-Stars Academy could help participants to boost their business and have a positive impact on the  economy.

“Most Arab countries have very low participation rates for women in the workforce. This program comes as a great solution to increase women’s workforce participation as well as financial inclusion,” noted Daniel Sharaiha, Chief Human Resources Officer at Bank al Etihad. “I believe that this program was an eye-opener for participants on supporting the women’s segment in their organizations and in their countries. The amazing thing about the program is that it provided an easy-to-use framework that can be applied in real life to benefit the women’s segment and the financial institutions.”

Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise and Community Finance, Commercial and Private Bank at NatWest, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland, agreed, placing special emphasis on the value the program could have for women business owners.

“Participants in this program are now able to support women at every stage of their business journey by providing day-to-day support as well as  valuable networks and celebrating the achievements of successful role models in business,” she said. “The All-Stars Academy helps banks become more than just providers of financial services; they learn how to help female entrepreneurs achieve their ambitions and at the same time boost the economy.”

Program participants also stressed the importance of the training and the role they see it playing in helping them to tap into the female economy in their regions.

Ghita Bouzoubaa, Digital Marketing Manager at Attijariwafa Bank in Morocco, said, “Starting this journey in Cairo is really inspiring me. We have shared lots of thoughts and experiences. I enjoyed learning about BLC Bank’s experience in Lebanon, as well as the amazing work the Central Bank of Egypt is doing on mobile payments. What I will take back home is that it takes a whole ecosystem working together to really support women’s economic empowerment.”

Yasmine El Assal, Head of Product Development at EG bank in Egypt, commented, “I really liked the approach that we are not here to discuss products for women – certain accounts or cards or attractive packaging that would attract women. We are here to focus on the whole value proposition that touches the needs of the women who really exist in society and how women can bring value to their organizations.”

Central bankers in attendance noted the value of the program to demonstrating the business case for banks to support the Women’s Market.

“The program was really valuable as it demonstrates that women are potential resources for banks and economies. If they become bank customers, they will empower themselves – and in turn foster development in their society,” said Dr. Nagwa Sheikh El Din – General Manager for Sudan Micro Finance Development Company, part of the Central Bank of Sudan.

The All-Stars Academy MENA was anchored by a Women’s Market pitch competition, where attendees demonstrated everything they had learned during the course by preparing and delivering a 5-minute pitch on the business case for a Women’s Market program in their home market. Participants from all the retail financial institutions in attendance took part in the competition, presenting their Women’s Market pitch to one of the expert instructors. The best three pitches were chosen, and those participants then presented to the entire room, which voted for the winner. The finalists were M2T of Morocco, NMB of Nepal, the National Bank of Egypt and the winner, QNB ALAhli.

This post has been updated with additional quotes and to correct previously posted incorrect information.