Momentum is building for supporting female entrepreneurs globally, with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government’s development finance institution, already surpassing its 2018 2X commitment of investing US$1 billion through retail financial services providers – mainly commercial banks – in emerging markets. The OPIC team responsible, led by tours de force Kathryn Kaufman – who we interview in this newsletter – worked together with other G7 countries for the newly minted 2X Challenge, tripling the value to US$3 billion. Subsequently adding the four Nordic countries, OPIC has also forged deals with IDB Invest for Fund Mujer, a US$200 million gender-focused fund for Latin America and the Caribbean, made a US$500 million commitment to investing in women as part of 2X Americas, and is doubling down on its efforts in Africa with a new US$1 billion initiative aimed at investing on women-owned and women-led projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Concurrently, the Alliance is experiencing a surge in membership in the Americas, with five banks joining so far in 2019: Bank of America, U.S.; Banco Regional, Paraguay; Santander Rio, Argentina; Global Bank, Panama; and Sudameris, Paraguay. We are also welcoming our first FinTech member: Lidh, Mexico’s first digital bank that targets the Women’s Market through financial offerings and financial planning and education services.
To support this growth, an All-Stars Americas is taking place in the historic and beautiful city of Quito, Ecuador, hosted by Alliance member Banco Pichincha from November 11-15. Banco Pichincha, the largest commercial bank in the country, has a longstanding commitment to support MSMEs and is taking a leadership position in serving female entrepreneurs. The Academy provides a unique opportunity to learn the key steps to designing and implementing a Women’s Market program. It is taught by Alliance members and will be delivered in Spanish with simultaneous translation into English. We welcome Alliance members and non-members who are interested in learning how to become the financial services provider of choice for women to apply.
This month we are also excited to announce a Study Tour to BLC Bank in Lebanon, timed so that participants can attend the glamorous Brilliant Lebanese Awards Gala Ceremony, televised on live TV November 20 in Beirut. The Study Tour is a two-day (November 18-19) intensive set of sessions with leaders from across the bank sharing how they successfully serve the Women’s Market in Lebanon and is extremely useful for those needing to understand how to embed a program in their institution. Click here to learn more.
Acknowledging that travel budgets are scarce, the Alliance is ramping up our online support with the introduction of our All-Stars Learning Center – showcasing key learnings from previous All-Stars Academies – and the launch of our newest service, Ask the Expert. Built on one of the most popular sessions of our All-Stars Academy, the Coaches’ Corner, Ask the Expert is a monthly “open office hours” webinar, during which members can ask experts questions related to their Women’s Market or gender diversity and inclusion programs. To help us schedule the topics and experts, please send your questions to us by August 30. The first Ask the Expert session will take place the week of September 23. Details will be sent to the membership.
Last but not least, this month, our member news roundup showcases the launch of Stanbic Bank Kenya’s Women’s Market program called DADA, which stands for Dare to Aspire Dare to Achieve; the deepening of BRAC Bank and BLC Bank’s non-financial services offer to women’s MSMEs; the latest on BAC’s program and perhaps the crown jewel for this month, the exciting gender bond issued by Banistmo with the support of IDB Invest – the fruits of which will be plowed back to finance female entrepreneurs. This kind of innovation is a milestone in the maturing of the effort to close the gender gap in access to finance for women.