Network News

Saturday 28th November 2020

This month’s network news round-up shows once again the innovative ways our members are forging new ground to increase their reach and impact on the female economy.

Ecobank, Togo:

Ecobank launched its women’s market program—Ellevate—on November 27, 2020 across their network in 33 African countries.  The program not only supports women-owned and women-led businesses, including businesses with a high percentage of female board members or employees, but also companies that make products with women’s needs in mind. The program provides a range of financial and non-financial services such as networking opportunities and upskilling on business and socio-emotional skills. The launch ceremony included a powerful keynote from H.E. Graca Machel, Founder of Graça Machel Trust who concluded her speech with the words, “the future of Africa comes down to empowering African women.” 

Santander, Argentina:

To celebrate Female Entrepreneurship Day on November 19th, Santander Argentina launched a new online hub for women entrepreneurs to connect and grow their business network. The look and feel is magazine-like and includes interviews with women entrepreneurs and inspirational talks and tools on a variety of topics from resilience to networking to creating social media strategies. The bank also supports microentrepreneurs with microfinance and non-financial services, ensuring that whatever size of business a woman has, she is supported. This includes an initiative with an ice-cream manufacturer to support low-income families start their own mom and pop ice cream stores, with Santander financing the fridges and inventory. Happily, it is also bringing ice cream to communities who did not have access before!

City Bank, Bangladesh:

City Alo, the women’s banking division of City Bank in Bangladesh, launched a new Islamic finance service called Manarah Islamic Banking, for women who wish to bank in accordance with Sharia law, by using a predetermined profit-sharing ratio to distribute income or profit generated between parties. City Alo is also offering Sharia compliant health insurance. The bank continues to ramp up its non-financial services offering including a City Alo Certification Program that supports women in developing their entrepreneurship skills.

HBL, Pakistan:

HBL Nisa is offering a new financial education toolkit to equip women with the knowledge they need as they enter into the formal financial sector. Complementing its existing range of products targeting women—including insurance and a versatile range of deposit accounts as well as a Sharia compliant Islamic Savings account—the Nisa Program aims to be a one-stop-shop for the financial needs of women across Pakistan.

NatWest, UK:

NatWest Group launched a Mentoring Pilot program on World Mentoring Day (October 27) in two regions in the UK, with plans to roll the program out across the UK in 2021. In the first three weeks the program garnered over 450 hits to the website; over 240 women registered interest, and 40 women signed up for a mentor.


The IFC recently launched IFC Guidance Note: COVID-19 and Gender Equality – Six Actions for the Private Sector, which lays out recommendations for how private sector companies can recover resiliently and inclusively from the effects of COVID-19. The publication recommends six actions that private sector companies can implement to ensure that both women and men can return to economic activities during and after the pandemic.

All members and stakeholders are invited to share their news on a monthly basis. Please email: