On the occasion of the G20 leaders’ summit, the World Bank Group announced the creation of an innovative new facility that aims to enable more than $1 billion to advance women’s entrepreneurship and help women in developing countries gain increased access to the finance, markets, and networks necessary to start and grow a business.
According to a dispatch, the United States initiated the idea for the facility and will serve as a founding member along with other donor countries.“This incredible facility will have a significant impact on women’s economic development around the world,” United States President Donald Trump said. “It will help increase opportunities and economic growth while addressing unique barriers women entrepreneurs face. I am proud the United States is helping to lead support of this unprecedented initiative.”
“Women’s economic empowerment is critical to achieve the inclusive economic growth required to end extreme poverty, which is why it has been such a longstanding priority for us,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “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.”
“Everyone benefits when women have the resources they need to participate fully in our economies and societies,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “Our Government is determined to help women gain the tools they need to be successful entrepreneurs and leaders. This important investment will help women in developing countries to create jobs, build economies that work for everyone, and have a real and fair chance at success.”
“I am happy that this initiative for women presents real added value. I want to sincerely thank everyone who worked on it especially the President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim and Ivanka Trump and others. We can see from the example of this Women’s Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative that the G20 is not just a two-day Summit, but that the G20 is a process”, Chancellor Merkel of Germany said. “And I don’t have the slightest doubt that under the leadership of Jim Kim that these will be truly valuable and productive investments.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “Women’s active participation in society is one of the pillars of Abenomics. Women’s empowerment and leadership will diversify and revitalize organization and societies. This facility embodies such belief in developing countries, and is promising initiative to achieve society where women shine.”
The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), the first World Bank-led facility to advance women’s entrepreneurship at this scale, will work to enable more than $1 billion of financing to 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. The goal of the facility is to leverage donor grant funding – currently over US$325 million – to unlock more than $1 billion in IFI and commercial financing by working with financial intermediaries, funds, and other market actors.
The dispatch says the World Bank Group was invited by the United States and Germany to create the facility, given the Bank Group’s deep experience, track record, and strong learning and innovation agenda. The initiative received strong donor support from Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States, enabling the Bank Group to take the facility from concept to Board endorsement within the year of the German G20 presidency.
Women entrepreneurs face numerous challenges to financing, owning, and growing a business, including limited access to capital and technology, a lack of networks and knowledge resources, and legal and policy obstacles to business ownership and development.
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.