Celebrating the International Women’s Day: showcasing best practices in SME Banking for women
In 2019, the SME Finance Forum launched its second annual competition of the Global SME Finance Awards competition. The Global SME Finance Awards were created by IFC and the SME Finance Forum to celebrate the exceptional achievements of financial institutions and fintech companies in client delivery for SMEs. The awards are endorsed by the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI). Sixteen award winners were selected from a global pool of over 140 entrants for their extraordinary achievements in delivering innovative products and services to their small and medium enterprise (SME) clients.
Last year, the awards included a new category, Women-owned SME Bank of the Year, which recognized the contributions of financial institutions in serving women-owned SMEs. The three winners in this category were: member BRAC Bank, BLC Bank, and member IDLC Bank. Each of them is helping create a gender-equal world, by facilitating access to finance for women entrepreneurs, and supporting women-led small businesses. Learn more about their programs, outstanding achievements, and best practices in this article.
TARA Program in Bangladesh – BRAC Bank
To promote women entrepreneurship in Bangladesh, the bank launched “TARA”, a program comprising financing facilities for women entrepreneurs in the area of business expansion, fixed asset purchase, working capital, and trade business. The aim of the TARA is to empower and connect women across Bangladesh and serve the financial and lifestyle needs of individual women and businesswomen with specific solutions. TARA also covers the customized entrepreneurial training for women entrepreneurs, tagged with dedicated business support desk, business documentation support and networking assistance for women-owned SME to grow their businesses. TARA already has more than 3400 SME business customers and around 200,000 deposit accounts. Learn more here.
WE initiative in Lebanon – BCL Bank
Women represent 54% of the total BLC Bank employees and 44% of the upper and middle management. In 2012, the bank launched the We initiative is a full and dedicated women empowerment program for Women in Business: entrepreneur, professionals, executives, mothers and women on the move seeking to find solutions for their challenges and concerns and aiming to unleash their potential and enhance their professional and personal lives. The We Initiative comprises exhaustive financial and non-financial services, ranging from comprehensive financial schemes to learning and development, market exposure, information, and guidance, giving women equal banking rights and opportunities, learning and development tools. Learn more here.
WEN Platform and IDLC Purnota – IDLC Finance Bank
The bank has the Women Empowerment Network (WEN), a platform for all the female employees of the company to share and raise various issues and problems like discrimination, harassment, negative attitude towards women and any other issue that may affect women employees within the Company. In 2014, IDLC entered into a cooperation agreement with IFC. As part of the agreement, a unique product called “IDLC Purnota” was launched in 2015 to cater to the need for women SMEs. This product provides loan facilities to the women-owned enterprises and also provides a range of non-financial services which includes insurance facilities for women entrepreneurs, business facilitation services, a dedicated helpline for the women entrepreneurs, training facilities, assistance in digital marketing, a dedicated helpline, training facilities, among other products. Learn more here.
To discover the full list of winners of the 2019 Global SME Finance Awards in Amsterdam last year, take a look at this video of the Awards ceremony. In 2020, the SME Finance Forum launches the third annual competition of the Global SME Finance Awards that will include the category for "Best Bank for Women Entrepreneurs" (former "Women-owned SME Bank of the Year".) The competition will be open -from March 11 to May 8, to all institutions working on SME banking, and helping women entrepreneurs thrive. Showcase your achievements, and participate in the competition. Learn more in this link.