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Letter from Inez: June 2024

Thursday 27th June 2024

Spotlight on: 2024 Summit

Our largest ever gathering of members convened in London earlier this month at our flagship Annual Summit for two days of unparalleled learning and networking. The treat of opening the London Stock Exchange kicked off a packed agenda of high caliber speakers, workshops and celebrations all with a common goal to unlock the power of the Female Economy. 

Much of the Summit’s focus was on supporting women to move through the entrepreneurial funnel – from starting up, to growing, to exiting a business – and the types of financing required at each stage, such as angel investment, debt finance and venture capital. Refreshingly candid sessions explored what it takes to close the gender access gap to all three capital sources. 

Although the UK has seen a threefold increase in the number of women led start-ups per year since the introduction of the Investing In Women Code in 2019, the percentage of equity investment going to female founders remains stubbornly low. Tax incentives to channel investment dollars effectively, getting the large institutional investors who fund the Private Equity (PE) and Venture Capital (VC) firms to sign on to the Code, and the need to press the peddle on women’s representation in our industry and policy making institutions were emphasized. Discussions sparked the mantra ‘follow the money’, as highlighted by the UK’s new Invest In Women Taskforce co-chaired by entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow, which is launching a bespoke funding pot to finance female founders.

Equally our participants from more advanced economies learned tons from the work of our members in emerging markets—with awesome insights particularly around innovations on debt financing to women led small businesses and in non-financial services to support women on their entrepreneurial journeys. Fertile exchange also took place between those implementing women’s markets programs and those implementing green finance programs, helping us all shape how we operationalize our value propositions to enable women to mitigate and to adapt to climate change. 

This month we welcome ProCredit Holding AG as the latest bank group to join the Alliance. The company has a strong focus on assisting SMEs to decarbonize and has joined the Alliance to understand how to apply a gender lens to their strategy. We interview Katarina Zdraljevic, Group Head of Sustainability, who shares the emerging approach ProCredit is taking to support women business owners. 

It would not be a Summit without shining a spotlight on data driving women’s financial inclusion. This year we showcased national Women’s Financial Inclusion Data dashboards from Bangladesh Bank and the Central Bank of Nigeria and heard directly from them and other central banks on policies being implemented to further women’s financial inclusion based on sex disaggregated supply side data. We also got superb insights from the first three countries to adopt the WE Finance Code, initiated by our members in each country. Following the Summit, a truly insightful one-day Study Tour was held to understand how the UK’s Investing In Women Code is evolving, attended by representatives from 33 countries interested in launching a Code. 

The amazing business models built by our fintech members were on display too, showcasing how they are reaching and adding value to women in ways we only dreamt of even 10 years ago. We heard from three past Alliance Hackathon winners—Tyme, LXME and TRIBE Fintech—as well as our newest fintech member, Moniepoint, on the adaptations each has made to their sales funnels to reach an extraordinary number of women. 

We’re now on the lookout for our next hackathon participants having launched the Alliance Hackathon 2024 at a wonderful Summit dinner hosted by HSBC Innovation Banking (formerly Silicon Valley Bank). We encourage our network of fintechs to apply by July 14 to be in the running to win the Female Economy Fintech Of The Year 2024 Award and a US$25,000 cash prize.

To cap off our Summit, we were delighted to celebrate the winners of our annual Championing the Female Economy Awards, which recognize outstanding Alliance member institutions for their vision, commitment and contributions to women and the Alliance. Take a look at our winners.On behalf of the Alliance, I would like to thank HSBC for their generosity in hosting the Summit this year, along with all the wonderful and committed members, partners and many new friends who were able to invest the time to participate and make the event so valuable.

In community,