New World Bank initiative targets women entrepreneurs

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The World Bank announced last Saturday the creation of  the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) to finance and support women entrepreneurs in developing countries. The project, which is worth over $1 billion, was initiated five months ago by Ivanka Trump, the daughter and advisor to the US president, Donald Trump.

The goal of the We-Fi is to leverage donor grant funding, currently over $325 million, to unlock more than $1 billion from international financial institutions (IFIs) and commercial financing by working with financial intermediaries, funds, and other market actors.

The initiative, which is the first led by the World Bank to advance women’s entrepreneurship at this scale, will improve access to capital, provide technical assistance, and invest in other projects and programs that support women and women-led SMEs in World Bank Group client countries.

One of the motives to launch the fund, according the the World Bank is that one of the major constraints limiting female-led enterprises is access to financial services. Nearly 70 percent of women-owned SMEs in developing countries are either shut out by financial institutions or are unable to receive financial services on adequate terms to meet their needs. It is estimated that women-owned entities represent just over 30 percent of formal, registered businesses worldwide.

The World Bank stressed that “while she helped initiate the idea for the facility and has been a strong advocate for the issue of women’s entrepreneurship, Advisor to the president Ivanka Trump will play no operational or fundraising role in the facility”.

“The United States initiated the idea for the facility and will serve as a founding member along with other donor countries”, the World Bank said in a press release.

“This new facility offers an unprecedented opportunity to harness both the public and private sectors to open new doors of opportunity for women entrepreneurs and women-owned firms in developing countries around the globe”, World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim said.

The announcement was made on the sidelines of the G20 leaders’ summit, during a ceremony attended by six world leaders present at the summit as well as the International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde.

Feature image via Wikimedia Commons.

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