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Project information: Women's World Banking

    Strengthening the financial inclusion of women

    Women's World Banking: Helping women access digital financial services

    As of: 10/2023

    The world of finance is still mostly a man's business: especially in the countries of the global South, women often have no access to financial services - even though, as numerous studies have shown, they often use their income much more than men do for their families, for the common good and thus for economic and social development. KfW Development Bank supports the non-profit organisation Women's World Banking (WBB) in improving the financial inclusion of women. The aim is to help women earn more of their own income, to improve their participation in economic life and to ensure that they are equally represented in financial institutions. Digitalisation plays a major role in this - for example, in overcoming barriers to mobility. Women who run small or medium-sized enterprises can access e-commerce platforms through digital technologies and thus significantly expand their radius of action and business.

    Project titleWomen's World Banking Capital Partners Fund
    Commissioned byCommissioned by Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
    Project partnersWomen's World Banking (WWB)

    Current situation

    Zwei Frauen mit einem elektronischen Abrechnungsgerät
    Financial inclusion not only empowers women economically - it also plays a crucial role in achieving most other sustainability goals.

    Worldwide, more than one billion women have no access to financial services. The figure sounds unbelievable and shows that there is still a lot to do for a feminist development policy, which KfW Development Bank implements on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The finances are mostly still in the hands of men.

    Equality between men and women is far from being achieved, especially in the financial sector. This is not only a social and human rights problem, but also an obstacle to development, especially in the countries of the global South. Studies show that the economic empowerment of women has a great "multiplier effect". Compared to men, they invest a larger share of their income in their families and communities, for example by financing health care or the nutrition and education of their children.

    Project approach

    Financial Cooperation with partner countries through KfW Development Bank cannot be successful in the long term if global gender inequality in access to financial services persists. The financial inclusion of women is therefore one of the keys to gender equality and progress in economic development. The non-profit organisation Women's World Banking contributes to this by supporting more than fifty independent microfinance institutions and banks worldwide that provide loans, savings accounts and other financial services in particular to businesswomen. At the same time, the aim is to promote women as employees, especially also in management positions, in the financial institutions and companies supported by WWB. Digitalisation is playing an increasingly large and important role in this: "Digital technologies have the potential to be a magic bullet," says WWB President and CEO Mary Ellen Iskenderian. She says there is a lot of data showing that when technology is available to them, when they are educated, women are more willing to choose a digital financial services provider. But first of all, efforts have to be intensified to create an access to this. For example, there is still an 18% gender gap in smartphone ownership.

    WWB has launched two funds to improve women's financial inclusion. World Women's Banking Capital Partners II - WWB's second fund - is a structured global equity fund with minority stakes in financial institutions and other financial service providers. KfW invested in this fund on behalf of the European Commission, the BMZ and with its own funds. KfW has been involved in WWB's first fund with its own funds for over ten years.


    "We know without a doubt that a woman who has more control over the financial resources she generates or that flow into the household has a louder voice and plays a weightier role in household decisions," Mary Ellen Iskenderian emphasises from experience. Increasing women's participation in digital technologies and giving them access to financial services is therefore one of WWB's main goals today: "We are excited about the possibilities that digital technologies offer in overcoming barriers to mobility," says Mary Ellen Iskenderian. Women who run small or medium-sized businesses can thus access e-commerce platforms and significantly expand their radius of action and business.

    Allen, an African woman, also has a small shop in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, as a short film on WWB's website shows. The young woman sells cereals and pork. She was seriously injured in a motorbike accident and could not continue her business for a while. But she was a customer of the "Finance Trust Bank", which is supported by WWB. There was insurance there for such cases. The bank covered the costs of medicine and hospitalisation. When she recovered, Allen was able to continue her business. Without this financial inclusion, she would probably not have been able to continue running her small shop.

    WWB says it has so far "reached" around 20 million women like Allen worldwide. This refers to women who have benefited from the organisation's programmes and whose financial inclusion has been improved by having access to financial services - such as bank accounts that can also be used digitally, and access to credit. This gives them the chance to transact business and orders with the financial service providers.

    WWB has invested more than 80 million US dollars in 20 financial institutions in twelve different countries to improve women's financial inclusion. The academic studies that WWB conducts have involved 20,300 women to ensure that the work takes into account the specific needs of women.

    The organisation also attaches great importance to ensuring that policies and legislation in the respective countries facilitate financial inclusion. Therefore, WWB has so far cooperated with 74 political organisations or legislative ministries and administrations in 45 countries. Seminars and workshops have been held to raise awareness about the situation of women and to improve their financial inclusion.

    The project contributes to the achievement of these following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:


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