Network News: November 2019

Every month, the Financial Alliance for Women publishes a roundup of the latest updates from network partners and members. Take a look at what’s new below:

Banco Pichincha Receives US$108.5 million to Expand Lending to Women in Ecuador

MSMEs in Ecuador face a US$18 billion credit gap. This gap is even more significant for those led by women. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Wells Fargo have executed a finance agreement for a US$108.5 million loan to Banco Pichincha to boost loans to women-owned and women-led MSMEs in Ecuador, as well as those that support women. Under this project, 53,000 female entrepreneurs are expected to receive financing in just the first 5 years.

This agreement between OPIC and Banco Pichincha follows an earlier one in May, when they signed a US$160 million deal to support mortgage loans and women-led microenterprises. OPIC’s investment falls under the agency’s 2X Women’s Initiative.


Banco BHD León to Increase Financing to Women’s SMEs

Lack of access to capital is one of the main obstacles women face when starting a business. In the Dominican Republic, only 21 percent of SMEs have a woman partner, and only 14 percent are wholly owned by women.

During the Foromic 2019 event in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, IDB Invest granted the equivalent of a US$50 million loan to Banco BHD León to finance local SMEs, especially those led by women. The first issuance is set for RD$500 million (US$9.5 million) and will allow Banco BHD León to finance 400 loans to SMEs, of which at least 40 percent will be for women-owned or -led companies.

The transaction includes technical assistance from IDB Invest to help Banco BHD León achieve EDGE certification. The bank will be the fourth financial institution in LAC to be EDGE certified.


IFC Expands Efforts to Support Women Entrepreneurs

A high-profile IFC event moderated by World Bank Group President David Malpass explored how the private sector can create financial and market opportunities for women entrepreneurs. The event, “Unleashing the Potential of Women Entrepreneurs through Finance and Markets,” highlighted innovative partnerships such as the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility (WEOF). Take a look at the event here, and watch the related interview with IFC’s Global Head of Banking on Women Jessica Schnabel.

As part of the WEOF, IFC and DEG are subscribing to the Women Entrepreneurs Bonds being issued by Bank of Ayudhya in Thailand. To the tune of up to US$220 million, the investment aims to boost lending to women’s SMEs in the country. This will be the first private sector gender bond issuance in the Asia-Pacific region and the first social bond issuance in Asian emerging markets. Learn more about the bond here.

IFC has also launched the Banking on Women-Global Trade Finance Program (BOW-GTFP) – a first-of-its-kind initiative that empowers banks to increase trade finance to women-owned SMEs in emerging markets. In addition to incentivizing banks to support women importers and exporters, the initiative provides tools and incentives for GTFP-participating banks to track business with women’s SMEs, and to generate data and research that will help governments, financial institutions and others to improve the business environment for trade and increase financial solutions for women. Click for more information on the new BOW-GTFP program.

Finally, a new market study published by IFC in collaboration with Fundes Strategy Mexico reveals that female entrepreneurs represent a major business opportunity for Mexican banks. One of the most surprising findings is that the key obstacle for women entrepreneurs is the absence of clear information, and not necessarily the lack of funding. Read on (in Spanish).


BFL BRED Group Holds Female-Focused Educational Workshops

In collaboration with the Lao Business Women Association, BFL BRED Group organized a Female Leadership & Career Development Seminar. Four successful Lao female leaders and entrepreneurs shared their stories and key business advice. The presentations were followed by a panel discussion and networking.

The bank also launched a program in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund and the campaign “Me, My body, My Planet, My future” to raise awareness around the Sustainable Development Goals and improve financial literacy among adolescent girls.

“We firmly believe contributing to better financial literacy will help Lao youth become the change-makers of tomorrow,” said Mr. Arnaud Caulier, BFL CEO.


FCMB Conducts Mentorship Program for Women

The third edition of FCMB’s SheVentures Mentorship Program for women entrepreneurs launched October 29 with a meet-up between mentees and mentors and a master class on “The Woman Behind the Business.” More than a traditional training and mentoring program, the SheVentures program focuses on mindset and personal development as well. The launch event attracted high-profile and seasoned mentors as well as senior managers from FCMB.


Bank of Palestine Offers Advisory Sessions for Women Entrepreneurs

As part of its objective to empower, support and promote the capacities and capabilities of Palestinian women entrepreneurs, Bank of Palestine organized a weeklong series of mentoring sessions for women entrepreneurs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The consultations were conducted by women business experts from the Netherlands in partnership with Professor Josette Dijkhuizen under Women4Women: Advisory & Guidance from Netherlands to Palestine.

Approximately 75 women from different economic sectors were given individual advisory sessions on topics such as administration, marketing and overcoming obstacles. The sessions were held at bank branches in Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and Gaza City.