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Letter from Inez: March 2018

Thursday 8th March 2018

Inez MurrayOn this 107th International Women’s Day we recognize how far we have come and Press for Progress for more and faster gains in gender parity. This month we are taking stock of our own progress, and as a global network there is much to celebrate. Our forthcoming annual report on members’ Women’s Market performance shows that together we reach 31.8 million women, providing US$88 billion in loans to women and holding US$90 billion in deposits from women. These numbers are representative of 25 of our members, up from 23 banks and 22 million women served reported in last year’s survey. Our sample is now sizable, and it yields some interesting insights.

First, while persistent gender gaps do remain, with women representing 36 percent of total customers compared to 35 percent last year, the average share of loans to women and women’s deposits is higher (24 percent and 32 percent respectively, compared to 19 percent and 24 percent in last year’s survey). Second, we see that GBA banks with mature programs are successfully serving women: Banks with Women’s Market programs that are 2 or more years old show a higher share of women’s credit and deposits, as well as lower non-performing loans, lower loan-to-deposit ratios and higher average products per customer than programs that are under 2 years old. These results make a strong business case for a long-term strategy for serving women. Third, we see mainly positive trends in internal gender diversity and inclusion metrics, with women now making up 51 percent of reporting banks’ total staff on average, compared to 44 percent the previous year; higher levels of women on boards (19 percent, compared to 13 percent women in last year’s survey); but stubbornly remaining at 25 percent for senior management positions, as per the previous year.

Finally, we see very strong increases in the proportion of banks offering a holistic value proposition with the full suite of non-financial services to women. Ninety-six percent of banks reported that they offer educational opportunities to their women customers, compared to 95 percent in the previous survey; 92 percent are offering networking, as compared to 74 percent last year; and 65 percent are offering recognition, such as awards, as compared to 42 percent the year earlier.

A strong example of a bank providing a holistic value proposition to women is Bank of Palestine, with its Mini MBA Program, conducted in cooperation with the IFC. This is a 6-month, structured learning program that combines practical training with mentoring and access to networks. Parallel to the strong performance results we observe in our Women’s Market survey, Mini MBA graduates have on average doubled their business revenues, and grown their number of employees and the size of their business networks. Bank of Palestine, in turn, increased product sales to the group and enhanced their brand equity in the market while building employee buy-in. The bank recently graduated its second Mini MBA cohort. This evaluation of the program is well worth a read for those tasked with figuring out what works and what does not work in the delivery of business support services to entrepreneurs.

Finally, this month GBA is proud to announce that we have been chosen by the W20 to act as Co-Chair of the Financial Inclusion work stream alongside the Alliance for Financial Inclusion. Building on the good work of the German presidency in 2017, the W20 is poised to press for progress and encourage actions on women’s economic empowerment across the world. Thanks to the performance of our members, GBA is increasingly positioned as an important voice in the global movement to build stronger policy that supports the female economy.

Sincere thanks to all those who contributed their data to help us measure our progress and to those whose ongoing efforts help us press for more.

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