Women empowerment is a step to equality
This new facility was revealed during the G20 leaders’ summit in 2017
The facility will help women in developing countries gain increased access to the finance, markets, and networks necessary to start and grow a business.
According to the Bretton Wood institution, nearly 70 per cent of women-owned SMEs in developing countries were either shut out by financial institutions or were unable to receive financial services on adequate terms to meet their needs.
The World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim believes that “Women’s economic empowerment is critical to achieving the inclusive economic growth required to end extreme poverty, which is why it has been such a longstanding priority for us."
This new women empowerment facility offer is expected to open new doors of opportunity for women entrepreneurs and women-owned firms in developing countries around the globe.
The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is the World Bank's first facility to advance women’s entrepreneurship.
The facility provides over $1 billion financing to support women and women-led SMEs in World Bank Group client countries.
The women entrepreneurship initiative received strong donor support from Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, The 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 actualization.
The World Bank explains that We-Fi is expected 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.
"The facility aims to support complementary public sector interventions that strengthen the enabling environment and enhance market opportunities for women-owned businesses. We-Fi differs from current efforts in that it represents a platform to align country-level reforms and private investment', the Bank says.
It has also built on and implement lessons learned about what worked for starting and growing female owned/led firms, collect key data from the public and private sector on female entrepreneurs and their firms, and support innovation and learning for results at scale.
We-Fi would 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.