Letter from Inez: April 2018

Thursday 5th April 2018

Inez MurrayOne of the more exciting developments in the Alliance is how our members’ marketing and communications strategies are increasingly bold in breaking stereotypes. This month we’ve done a roundup of campaigns run for International Women’s Day, and three examples that call attention to gender stereotyping are standouts: BLC Bank in Lebanon, TEB in Turkey and Bank of Palestine. We all know that culture is the biggest barrier to women’s and girls’ achievement, and it’s phenomenal to see banks – which historically have been perceived as conservative institutions – supporting breaking the mold in their own countries and beyond.

This only works if a woman customer has a differentiated and valuable experience with her financial services provider. In March we gathered 20 banks in Sri Lanka to learn the nuts and bolts of doing just that at our first All-Stars Academy  in Asia. Expert practitioners from two new best practice banks — HBL in Pakistan and NatWest in the United Kingdom — taught alongside longtime GBA expert BLC Bank and the stalwart expert IFC. A very diverse group from South America, Africa, South Asia and East Asia attended. With abundant talent and enthusiasm, the group worked through all aspects of program design and delivery. We wish all of them, including the four banks from Sri Lanka, every success with their programs. We are with you all the way.

We leveraged the presence of our best practice banks to share their strategic and business case for targeting the Women’s Market with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka during a policy forum at the beginning of the All-Stars. With very low rates of female participation in the labor market in Sri Lanka and equally low rates of female entrepreneurship, much needs to done. Joined by the Bangladesh Bank and many stakeholders from the Sri Lankan ecosystem, the mood was optimistic around what can be achieved for women in what will be the first middle-income country in South Asia.

My sincere thanks to the IFC team, who went above and beyond the call of duty to support the GBA team in putting on the All-Stars Asia, and to FMO, which has been with us from the beginning of our All-Stars Academy journey.

Our All-Stars Academy moves to South Africa the week of June 25–29 as we seek to build additional capacity in Africa. We encourage GBA members to register and high-potential financial institutions from all regions to apply.

We got a sneak preview of some of the exceptional practice on non-financial services that will be featured in South Africa during a webinar co-hosted with strategic partner SME Finance Forum this week. Thank you to Bank of Palestine and Stanbic Bank in Zambia, who shared their experiences in offering educational services to women entrepreneurs. Both banks are not only demonstrating the clear win-win for their women customers and themselves, but through careful measurement are testing what works as we seek to scale access to non-financial services.

We also remind you that the Westpac Study Tour is taking place later this month. Registration closes Monday, April 9.

Finally, this month we welcome our newest member, ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank, to the Alliance. We interviewed Arsen Melkonyan, ACBA’s Head of Development and Marketing, to learn about the impressive progress the bank has already made in this space and his plans for modifying its non-financial services offer to support women entrepreneurs in particular. I first met representatives from the bank on International Women’s Day in 2017 in their hometown of Yerevan, Armenia, having been invited by EBRD. We are delighted to welcome them one year later to the fold of GBA members partnering to making a real difference for women in all our markets.

Our sharing of know-how is only possible with the collaboration of our members and our strategic partners.

Sincere thanks to all of you.

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