For those who haven’t heard, the World Bank Group, at the just concluded G20 leaders’ summit, announced that it has 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.
Named the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), the facility will help “unlock the potential of women entrepreneurs,” and will “enable more than $1 billion in financing to improve access to capital, provide technical assistance, and invest in projects and programs that support women and women-led SMEs in World Bank Group client countries,” according to the bank, through its website.
The World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim, had said, at the announcement of the facility that: “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. 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.”
But really is the initiative about? According to the bank, this first World Bank-led facility would 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 bank said.
The initiative, We-Fi, builds on the success of past and current Bank Group programs while reaching into new areas, supporting women-led businesses at earlier stages of growth, and unlocking access to equity and insurance services, the bank said, adding that: “At the same time, the facility aims to support complementary public sector interventions that strengthen the enabling environment and enhance market opportunities for women-owned businesses.”
The We-Fi facility, according to the bank, “will work to break down barriers to financial access and provide complementary services such as capacity building, access to networks and mentors, and opportunities to link with domestic and global markets as well as improving the business environment for women-owned or women-led SMEs across the developing world.”
We-Fi fills a gap where there was no significant fund or facility committed to a holistic public and private sector approach to addressing the constraints faced by women entrepreneurs.”
According to the US president, Donald Trump, the facility “will have a significant impact on women’s economic development around the world. It will help increase opportunities and economic growth while addressing unique barriers women entrepreneurs face.”
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