Letter from Inez: May 2014

Tuesday 13th May 2014

GBA Newsletter

In early April, I was privileged to participate in one of GBA’s Study Tours, hosted by BLC Bank Lebanon. An intense few days of learning culminated with the sense that a blue print for a Women’s Market Program is imminent. Pioneered by Westpac and proven now in Lebanon, both programs are powerful models that impact women and the bank’s bottom line.

The Lebanese team shared an uncommon level of detail and gracefully answered questions from fellow GBA members thirsty for know-how and under pressure back home to launch programs. I was particularly impressed by the way they highlighted Lebanese women entrepreneurs, hosting six at the tour, who shared their stories. The narrative of Helene Nasr, winner of BLC’s 2013 Brilliant Lebanese Awards, is a wonderful example. Her company, Scitek, designed and implemented the technology to protect the Lebanese border against nuclear incursion. A Nobel Prize Laureate, Helene defies many a stereotype, but nonetheless faced challenges familiar to all women. In an interview with GBA, she describes the difficulties she had starting her business, and how the exposure and support that came with winning the prize helped her on the road toward expansion throughout the Middle East.

What GBA members learned from BLC is that promoting and highlighting women builds its own momentum. 25% of the Lebanese population watched Ms. Nasr win her award. This is testimony to BLC’s marketing campaign, which includes an ingenious People’s Choice Award, where the general public were asked to vote via Facebook on what they considered the best business. In this issue, Dima El Dayri, Brand Manager WE & Enterprise Banking at BLC Bank, shares the thinking behind the awards, and their aim to provide role models like Helene Nasr to encourage other women in Lebanon to start businesses.

This month we are similarly proud to profile latest GBA member UT Bank Ghana, who are launching their Women’s Market Program this July. As Pearl Esua-Mensah, UT’s Managing Director explains, Ghanaian women are extraordinary entrepreneurs, and own a high percentage of businesses in the country. UT’s intent is to offer superior financial and non-financial services to all women, not only women business owners, in line with Westpac’s and BLC’s approach, and thereby positioning UT as the bank of choice for women.

As Pearl noted in her interview, she is also using our Annual Summit to mobilize her staff to get good results by September! Visibility amongst women goes a long way, and we are delighted, as ever, to be at the forefront of an ever stronger and more prominent alliance.

Inez Murray, Chief Executive Officer
Global Banking Alliance for Women