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Women’s Opportunity

Mary Ellen Iskenderian,
                    President & CEO
Mary Ellen Iskenderian,
President & CEO

More than 1 billion women around the world do not have access to even a simple savings account at a bank.

At Women's World Banking, these women are always on our minds, not just because of the tremendous market opportunity they represent for financial service providers, but also because of the economic growth that would result from their inclusion in the formal financial sector.

In 2016, I celebrated my 10th anniversary with Women's World Banking. After 10 years leading this wonderful organization, I am more optimistic than ever that we can achieve financial inclusion for those 1 billion women. Governments and private sector players are catching on to what we’ve always known—women are good for business and good for the economy. With insights from nearly 40 years of research, we’re harnessing the latest technologies and innovative approaches to make an unprecedented impact on women’s financial lives.

Here’s a snapshot of
that impact.

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Increased our Global Influence

We use our voice to help shape policy and influence global leaders.

Our Financial Inclusion Allies

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partner institutions
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shared mission: to bring vital financial products and services to women
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Researched the Lives of Women

Our research examines all aspects of a woman's financial reality to understand her unique needs.
women consulted in 11 countries*
*over our 2014-2016 strategic period

Asking the Right Questions

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    How can opening a bank account impact a woman's health and well-being? read more read more
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    How do women use and experience digital savings accounts? read more read more
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    How can banks serve the women who are hardest to reach? read more read more

How insurance changes a woman’s life

Material Change
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She pays for her medicine and transportation to and from the hospital
Cognitive Change
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She understands how insurance works and how it can help her
Perceptual Change
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She develops a stronger sense of self and vision for her future
Relational Change
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She feels more empowered to make decisions for her household
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Designed Innovative Products

We create financial solutions to serve women at all stages of their lives.
1.5 million+
women now have access to financial products and services not previously available to them*
*over our 2014-2016 strategic period

Fulfilling Women's Financial Needs

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    Enterprise Loans

    Allow women to build businesses read more read more
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    Digital Savings Accounts

    Enable women to safely and conveniently save for the future read more read more
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    Protect women’s finances in the face of health emergencies read more watch the video
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Invested in

Investing in women is profitable. That’s why our private equity fund invests directly in financial service providers that are committed to serving low-income women.
$32 million
deployed across eight institutions around the world

Driving Growth for Women Clients

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    60% increase

    in the number of women clients served by investees
    *excludes new investments where data is unavailable

Among Investee Institutions:

  • Women clients are saving at higher rates
  • Women employees are serving longer employment tenures than male counterparts

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Celebrated Leadership & Diversity

In 2016, we celebrated a decade of developing strong women leaders and building gender-diverse financial service providers around the world.
institutions committed to improving leadership and diversity*
*over our 2014-2016 strategic period

Delivering the Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program

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    20% to 50%

    growth in percentage of women clients credited to the program by an executive participant
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    of executives credit the program for progress made on strategic business initiatives


These successes over the past year challenge us to do even more.

Emerging trends push us forward: improved regulation, cross-sector partnerships, and innovative FinTech models. With this momentum, Women’s World Banking seeks to be the catalyst to reach one billion women with financial services.

We will:

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global action around the most critical issues for women’s financial inclusion
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partnerships among those who can serve and profit from economically empowered women
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innovative, commercially-viable financial solutions to meet women’s needs across regions and cultures
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the promise of financial services to deliver better outcomes across all aspects of women’s lives

It is a great honor and privilege to serve with my colleagues here at Women’s World Banking. We’re grateful for the generous support of our donors and investors as well as the wise counsel of our Board of Directors as we continue this journey.

Mary Ellen Iskenderian

Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President & CEO


Join Us

Stichting to Promote Women’s World Banking
Board of Directors

Women’s World Banking is governed by a Board of Directors, whose members are all recognized leaders in banking, finance, business, law, community organizing or women’s economic participation. The organization is enhanced by this powerful combination of leaders from various disciplines who together ensure that Women’s World Banking’s work is relevant and grounded. The Board has fiduciary responsibility for the organization and is charged with approving Women’s World Banking’s policies, strategies and annual budgets.

  • Connie Collingsworth, Co-Chair
  • Muna Sukhtian, Co-Chair
  • Ela Bhatt, Honorary Member for Life
  • Ineke Bussemaker
  • Uzoma Dozie
  • Samit Ghosh
  • Frannie Leautier
  • Nejira Nalic
  • Beth K. Roberts
  • Angela Sun
  • Michael Useem
  • Marleen H.J. van den Horst
  • Michaela Walsh, Honorary Member for Life

Thank you to Jennifer Riria, Mary Houghton, Julie Redfern, Roshaneh Zafar, and Suzanne Nora Johnson for their board service, which concluded in 2016.

Friends of WWB/USA, Inc.
Board of Directors

Friends of WWB/USA, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, which raises donations from U.S. foundations, corporations and individuals in support of Women’s World Banking’s global mission. The organization maintains a separate Board of Directors comprised of leaders in law, business, marketing, finance and academia who provide fundraising capability and strategic guidance on Women’s World Banking’s global initiatives and U.S. presence.

  • Beth K. Roberts, Chair
  • Elizabeth P. Munson, Secretary
  • Inger Dewey Golob
  • Maryfrances Metrick
  • Nicole Gresham Perry

Thank you to Phebe Farrow Port and Michael Useem for their Friends board service, which concluded in 2016.

Africa Advisory Council

Formed in 2014 under the auspices of the U.K. Department for International Development’s Financial Sector Deepening Africa program, the Africa Advisory Council informs Women’s World Banking’s regional strategy and advocates for women’s financial inclusion across Africa.

Council Members
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
    Honorary Co-Chair; Former Minister of Finance, Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • Jennifer Riria
    Honorary Co-Chair; Group Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Women
  • Mark Napier
    Special Advisor; Director, Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa
  • Anne-Marie Chidzero
    Co-Founder and Principal Partner at Alitheia Identity Managers
  • Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi
    Former Special Gender Envoy, African Development Bank
  • Frannie Léautier
    Former Senior Vice-President, African Development Bank Group
  • Debra Mallowah
    General Manager, East Africa, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Monique Nsanzabaganwa
    Vice Governor, National Bank of Rwanda

Thank you to Ade Ashaye, Nomkhita Nqweni, Elisabeth Medou Badang, and Luke McKend for their council service, which concluded in 2016.

Core Funders

Women’s World Banking relies on its core funding partners to make our operations possible. We share mandates to promote gender equality and increase financial inclusion. Women’s World Banking values the reciprocal relationship it has with each core funder. We are proud to partner with these leaders in the development community and are very grateful for their strategic inputs and financial support.

Supporters Supporters Supporters



  • Anonymous
  • Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
  • Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) (programmatic funding)
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Credit Suisse Foundation
  • Department for International Development (DFID)
  • MetLife Foundation


  • Citi Foundation
  • Cisco Foundation
  • ExxonMobil Foundation
  • S&P Global
  • Swiss Capacity Building Facility (SCBF)
  • United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)
  • VISA Inc.


  • Anonymous
  • Elizabeth Munson
  • Inger Dewey Golob
  • Maryfrances Metrick
  • Versace
  • West Elm
  • White & Case LLP


  • Beth Roberts and Natan Vaisman
  • Colgate
  • Connie Collingsworth
  • Marissa Wesely
  • Michael Useem


  • Lillian Feder Foundation
  • Nicole Gresham Perry
  • Sylvia Chin


  • Anne Hale and Arthur Johnson Fund
  • Chris Rich
  • Dorothy Roberts
  • Ellen Brunsberg
  • Greater Twin Cities United Way
  • Honeybee Fund
  • Isobel Coleman
  • Marleen van den Horst
  • Maureen O'Toole
  • May Seeman
  • Michelle Chiang
  • Monica McGrath
  • Paulson Charitable Foundation
  • Sue Wagner
  • Valerie Hiebert
  • Willow Ridge Charitable Foundation


  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • Sidley Austin LLP
  • White & Case LLP