Letter from Inez: June 2015

Saturday 13th June 2015


This month was my first opportunity to visit BHD León in the Dominican Republic. I met Steven Puig, BHD’s Executive Director, at the annual meeting of the Association of Latin American Banks (FELABAN) in November 2013. At that time BHD León had a vision for becoming the bank of choice for women in the Dominican market. With input from GBA banks and the IFC, that vision became a reality this February, with the launch of their Mujer Mujer program.

In just five months, the program is showing strong results — not surprising given the customer value proposition. Using market research on women’s priorities, the bank developed product bundles focused on key themes — education, health and business. Each bundle mixes credit, savings and insurance products. For education, for example, the bank offers 0 percent financing for school fees, programmed savings accounts that include the option to borrow double the amount saved at the end of a 6-month or 12-month time period, life insurance for the account holder and discounts on school supplies. This product goes beyond serving the needs of mothers and also targets women who did not have the opportunity to attend university when they were younger through a partnership BHD León has forged with a local university.

I have spent many years supporting financial institutions figuring out customer-centric solutions like these, and I was deeply impressed by the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of BHD León’s Women’s Market strategy. The key to their success is the multi-disciplinary team that was formed to design and execute the program. As I sat in on their weekly meeting, their enthusiasm about the program was palpable — and perhaps even higher than usual as that night marked the celebration of the Premio Mujeres que Cambian el Mundo (Women Who Change the World Awards). The finalists came from all walks of life and were united in their dedication to impacting the lives of their communities for the better. BHD León did not choose the easier route of selecting high-profile women to win these awards, but rather chose to make the invisible visible — to honor the hard work and ingenuity of so many in our communities who quietly make the world work. The winner, Celida Marcelo Luis, is a 40-year-old low-income widow with three kids who took it upon her entrepreneurial self to farm Tilapia. She now employs up to 19 people in the high season, provides a good source of protein to her community at a small profit while selling at higher prices to restaurants, and reinvests some of those profits into improving the local school and other infrastructure projects. Celida’s leadership was an inspiration to the independent jury and the crowd at the awards ceremony.

As was the case for BDH León’s successful launch, customer centricity is the key to all our work, and in order to help others become smarter about giving women customers what they want, GBA is pulling together a compendium of customer insight our members have gathered to design their value propositions for women. This publication, “What She Wants: Developing a Tailored Value Proposition for Women Consumers of Financial Services,” will be published for our Annual Summit in São Paulo, September 29 — October 1.

This month we are proud to welcome our newest member and largest bank in Oman, bank muscat, and in this issue we interview Ilham Al-Hamaid, Assistant General Manager, SME Credit & Marketing & Regional Corporates, and ask her about the bank’s strategy for the Women’s Market in Oman.

Ilham and her team are attending the Westpac Study Tour July 29 — 30, and we hope to see them along with our members, prospective members and supporters at our Annual Summit.


Inez Murray, Chief Executive Officer

Global Banking Alliance for Women