World Bank backing emerging market female entrepreneurs

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The World Bank Group used the G20 leaders’ summit to announce the creation of a new facility that will enable more than US$1 billion to advance female entrepreneurship and help women in developing countries gain increased access to the finance, markets and networks.

The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), the first World Bank-led facility to advance women’s entrepreneurship at this scale, will provide 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 US$1 billion in IFI and commercial financing by working with financial intermediaries, funds, and other market actors.

The World Bank Group was invited to create the facility by the United States and Germany, while the initiative received strong donor support from Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the United Kingdom (UK).

We-Fi aims to build on the success of past and current Bank Group programmes while reaching into new areas, supporting women-led businesses at earlier stages of growth, and unlocking access to equity and insurance services.  

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.

“This incredible facility will have a significant impact on women’s economic development around the world,” said US 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.”

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said women’s economic empowerment was critical to achieving the inclusive economic growth required to end extreme poverty, which is why it had been such a longstanding priority.

“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,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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