Letter from Inez: May 2015

Wednesday 13th May 2015

GBA Newsletter

Last week I had the honor of participating in the launch of GBA member Türk Ekonomi Bankasi’s (TEB) Women Banking program in Istanbul. The event marked an important breakthrough for Turkish women entrepreneurs. TEB made a strategic decision to focus on SMEs about 10 years ago when the majority of its business was from large corporate clients. The bank tailored its underwriting capabilities to cater to SMEs and built core capabilities around becoming what TEB calls a “consultant bank” for entrepreneurs. Their service mix is built around four pillars: information, capacity development, consulting/mentoring, and networking. Over 50 percent of the bank’s business is now with SMEs, and it is these capabilities that will be tailored to the specific needs of women business owners, as
Meral Guzel
, TEB’s Former Senior Manager responsible for TEB Women Banking explains.

TEB is the second GBA member receiving financial support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Fellow GBA member Garanti Bank, host of the 2013 Summit, received a US$60 million loan in 2012. I was delighted to see that after Garanti’s program success the EBRD is launching a comprehensive Women in Business platform. This program offers banks a funding mechanism that guarantees on a first-loss basis any loans extended to women business owners that are not repaid. The program thus enables banks to offer loans to women without collateral — a major benefit for women seeking financing, as most banks require property that many women either do not own or do not own outright.

In this way, EBRD is encouraging banks to enter the Women’s Market by minimizing their risk. EBRD’s program initially covers 12 countries in addition to Turkey, with the hope of extending even further afield. The financial package is complemented by technical support to banks as well as access to training and consulting services for the women themselves. As Charlotte Ruhe, Director, Small Business Support at the EBRD explains, the hope is to have a catalytic effect on each country by involving a critical mass of banks and to make it normal to offer a women-led business in a service sector economy a good 3-5 year investment loan.

The scale and ambition of EBRD’s program is to be commended, and GBA looks forward to welcoming many of its bank partners into our Alliance so that we learn and grow together.

TEB Women Banking offers us the opportunity to test the right mix of financial and non-financial services for women business owners, and we invite members to join a Study Tour to TEB in 2016. In the near term, we would like to remind folks about the Study Tour at Westpac in July and are happy to announce that our second GBA Case Study, which is on BLC Lebanon, is being published in June.

I couldn’t help feeling, as I looked out on the Bosphorus, that as we build more and more examples of best practices in supporting women to build their wealth, we will reach a tipping point when all banks see the tremendous opportunity the Women’s Market presents.


Inez Murray, Chief Executive Officer

Global Banking Alliance for Women