Letter from Inez: April 2016

Thursday 28th April 2016

Inez Murray squareI am writing to you from Dar Es Salaam, where the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) has invited GBA to help integrate gender into national Financial Inclusion Strategies across the world. Our focus is on how central banks can boost market development by encouraging the production of supply-side sex-disaggregated data on their customers. GBA banks do this already, and the more data we have, the easier it is to prove the business case to others. For regulators, sex-disaggregated data means better policy, and the call for it has been baked into the groundbreaking AFI Action Plan for Women’s Financial Inclusion, developed over the past three days and expected to be adopted at the upcoming AFI Global Policy Forum – to which over 100 countries will be signatories.

If we are to close the gender gap in access to finance, regulators also need to ensure that the appropriate legal framework is in place to support women’s full participation in the economy. In preparing for this meeting I was drawn to our Resource of the Month, The World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law report, which tracks laws that impede participation in the labor market and owning businesses. Of the 173 countries surveyed, 155 have at least one law that impedes participation, and many have laws that hinder access to finance. These laws range from unequal marital property regimes and inheritance laws to loan requirements that include the signature of a husband. And indeed, just 46 countries have laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender in accessing credit.

It is thrilling to be at the table for these discussions, and our most recent GBA Study Tour, hosted by TEB in Turkey, was a fantastic example of the kind of resources GBA has for promoting this work. Over the course of the tour, TEB made their incredible progress since the launch of their TEB Women Banking program in May 2015 very clear. They have thoroughly adapted their existing financial and non-financial services to women.

For finance, TEB makes use of a fund that enables them to reduce the collateral required from women while using a first-loss mechanism on their portfolio, encouraging the risk department that should anything go awry, the institution is covered. Nothing is going awry, of course, but this speaks to the fact that financing mechanisms do encourage banks to take the leap into the Women’s Market. On the non-financial services side, TEB’s main push so far has been with their “roadshow” training and networking events (SME Women Academy), where levels of engagement are significantly higher than at their regular SME Academies. This is evidence of the thirst of women in Turkey for know-how and networking to grow their businesses.

This month we’d like to give a shout out to Centenary Bank which has made huge progress with its Cente Supawoman Club program, reaching 20,000 women through the program’s business trainings since the launch in June 2015 – a significant number given the Ugandan context.

Finally, a reminder to all that this week we are closing our application process for our highly competitive GBA All stars Academy training taking place in The Hague June 13 – 16. If you are from a member bank and could use a lift in your know-how, or if you are not from a member bank but know of a great bank that can ably take on the Women’s Market, please encourage them to apply. Attending this course is a fantastic way to either kick off a program or to advance it.



Chief Executive Officer
Global Banking Alliance for Women