Letter from Inez: Spotlight on Policy and Entrepreneurship

Wednesday 18th November 2015

Inez MurrayLast month I was privileged to be a delegate to the Summit of the Women-20 (W20), an engagement group set up under the auspices of the G20 to promote gender inclusiveness and gender equality as key to economic growth. We gathered for two days in Istanbul to hammer out a communiqué with 10 policy objectives. The W20 objectives were introduced in this week’s talks in Antalya on how to get the global economy growing faster and how to ensure that that growth is inclusive.

While G20 leaders have rightly turned their attention to security issues, the link between security and inclusiveness has rarely been felt more acutely. Full economic inclusion of women is key to global security, and the GBA was able to ensure language was included highlighting the importance of governments’ support for women’s access to finance, business and financial education and market opportunities, as well as encourage the production of demand- and supply-side sex-disaggregated data to promote market development. The GBA has worked extensively on the data issue this year, and we are particularly proud of the work of our Data Working Group comprising 11 banks, which produced a How-to Guide to support banks seeking to disaggregate their data by sex.

As part of the US delegation, I was joined by Jennifer Bisceglie, Chair of Women Advancing Public Policy (WIPP), a non-partisan advocacy organization representing 4.7 million women business owners in the United States. The US has led the world in the promotion of small businesses through measures like a federal law that requires the federal government to purchase at least 5 percent of its goods and services from women-owned small businesses. Supplier diversity strategies have been put in place by 97 percent of Fortune 500 companies. The US model for certifying businesses as women owned and encouraging and supporting corporations to achieve their goals is being carried overseas by GBA member WEConnect International.

As Jennifer and I talked, the need to exchange best practices internationally became ever clearer. Models like WIPP and WEConnect play a huge role in creating an effective enabling environment for inclusive growth.

To this end, the GBA continues to expand our network, and this month we are proud to profile the latest GBA member, Banco Popular de Puerto Rico (BPPR), a bank with a 65 percent share of its home market and one that is acutely aware of the need to respond to the diversity of its customer base. As Senior VP, Marketing Director Mariel Arraiza explains, the bank understands the critical contribution women make to the Puerto Rican economy and seeks to learn from others in the GBA to achieve their goals.

Last but not least, we are pleased to announce that our next Study Tour will be to BLC Bank, Lebanon, February 3 – 5, 2016. BLC’s highly successful Women’s Market program is just 3 years old, and the tour will provide a tremendous learning opportunity for banks at all stages of their program development.

Our hearts go out to France and Lebanon this week, and to all the countries whose economic growth is interrupted by violence rather than augmented by mutual exchange.