As part of its efforts to promote gender equality and inclusion, the EBRD has launched an innovative Women in Business programme that brings together financing and advisory services to help women manage and grow their own small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
In the EBRD region, SMEs run and owned by women tend to be at the smaller end of the size range and to focus on economic activities with lower added value, such as services. There are many reasons for this, including legal and cultural barriers to accessing capital, restricted opportunities for acquiring business management skills and the frequent need to reconcile business and family responsibilities.
The EBRD’s Women in Business programme helps to address these issues by providing dedicated credit lines for women entrepreneurs and by offering them tailored advice and training to increase their know-how and networking opportunities.
In addition, the programme helps partner financial institutions reach out to more potential borrowers among women entrepreneurs through improved marketing and product development and by introducing a risk-mitigation scheme for credit line beneficiaries.
“We believe this programme can play an important role in helping our partner financial institutions to recognise and respond to the needs of women entrepreneurs,” says Sylvia Gansser-Potts, the Director of the EBRD’s banking team for Financial Institutions in Turkey and the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED). “And by reaching out to this untapped borrowing market, these institutions can grow their business volume and establish themselves as leaders in the field.”
Women in Business credit lines have been signed in Egypt, Turkey and the Western Balkans and are being developed across a wider range of countries. The EBRD is grateful for the generous support of donors whose contributions finance key aspects of the Women in Business initiative.