MENA Financial Inclusion: Women Banking Champions Program
The Women Banking Champions Program aims at increasing access to financial services for women and women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa region through the provision of advisory services to financial institutions (banks and microfinance institutions). It is a contribution to SECO/WE's inclusive and sustainable growth mandate.
Women and women businesses have worldwide a much more limited access than men to financial services but the gender gaps are particularly large in the MENA region. It is estimated that women-owned businesses only access between 2 and 10 % of commercial bank finance. This holds true in emerging markets where women-owned firms represent 31-38% but have unmet financial needs close to USD 300 billion every year. In addition, women are also more vulnerable to non-financial barriers which may include, for example, the legal and regulatory environment or financial instiutions' lack of familiarity with female clients.
The goal of the program is to increase access to financial services for women, both individual women and women entrepreneurs, in the Middle East and North Africa region through the provision of advisory services to financial institutions (banks and microfinance institutions). More specifically, the Program will provide support to financial intermediaries in key Middle East and North Africa markets to establish them as women banking champions, in turn creating a demonstration effect in their respective markets. The support provided will help financial institution expand their offering, including financial and non-financial services, such as networking opportunities and trainings to women clients. The indirect impact of the project is to improve women economic empowerment and ease the business environment for women in the region.
Increased financial and non financial services catering the women markets measured by the number of MSME loans disbursed to women, the number of women borrowers (retail) and the number of deposit accounts opened by women. The project is adressing financial inclusion by specifically targeting the gender gap and therefore contributes to inclusive growth in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The main output is the capacity building to financial institution leading to the design and implementation of financial and non-financial services which can reach the women financial market.
Additional outputs relate to awareness raising and adressing the business environment for women, increasing the capacity and willingness of financial institutions to cater the women financial market and easing barriers for women economic empowerment in the region.
Results from previous phases:
This project has been developped on the basis of the experiences made in a regional project on access to finance in the Middle East and North Africa. The successful pilot project took place in Lebanon with a financial institution which is now a leader for women banking in Lebanon and in the region.
|Directorate/federal office responsible||
|Budget||Current phase Swiss budget CHF 5’000’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF 0 Budget inclusive project partner CHF 11’400’000|
|Project phases||Phase 1 16.10.2017 - 30.09.2023 (Current phase)|