Architects of Financial Inclusion for Women

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

2017 was a year of big social, cultural and political upheaval for women around the world.

Amidst these changes, I can see that our work is more important and more impactful than ever, because access to finance gives women a stronger voice and greater opportunity. But the ripple effect of women’s financial inclusion extends far beyond an individual woman and her family. Financial service providers see improved financial performance once they design and market products that meet women’s needs. And countries that invest in closing the gender gap accelerate economic growth and distribute the benefits of that growth to more of their citizens.

Women’s World Banking is the architect of a world where women thrive, businesses flourish, and economies grow. We’ve got the blueprint: join us in making our plans a reality.

Mary Ellen Iskenderian,
President & CEO

Our Blueprint

Market-driven solutions

With deep intelligence about the barriers women face and the macro-economic environment, we design solutions that are commercially-viable and directly meet women’s needs.

Gender Lens Investing

By requiring rigorous data collection related to gender diversity within the institution and outreach to women clients, we drive stronger institutions.

Leadership & Diversity

We provide organizations with the tools and programs needed to build powerful, gender-diverse teams to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

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Global Impact

By working with a global network of local partners, we’re able to reach more women with solutions tailored to their needs.

30 Million

Women around the world






$25 Million

In new donor funds to improve women’s lives.

Where to find our partners

By joining Women’s World Banking in its mission to drive economic opportunity for all, organizations can learn from peers from around the world, be the first to gain new insights on the women’s market, and gain a competitive advantage by serving the largest emerging market there is – women. Join us.

world map
middle east - north african countries
middle east - north african countries
middle east - north african countries
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Market-Driven Solutions

We design market-driven products and services that meet women’s needs, driving growth for financial service providers and economic opportunity for women. Here’s a selection of our work from 2017.

1.2 million

Women in Nigeria and Tanzania received savings and credit products.


100% of clients

Of Egypt’s Lead Foundation now have insurance to protect against the financial burdens of medical emergencies.

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7 million households

In Mexico received digital welfare payments through the Prospera Digital program.

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Delivering banking services to low-income women in rural Pakistan was an enormous task. It demanded an original approach.

Our challenge was to reach women in isolated villages across a sprawling country. So, we developed an agent banking model by teaming the leading mobile financial provider, JazzCash, with Unilever Pakistan’s vast network of Guddi Baajis female retail agents.

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We’ve done a lot. And we have more to do.

For over four decades, we’ve brought low-income women around the world into the financial system. We’re focused on these 4 areas of the product life cycle.

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We address the barriers women have from accessing an account.

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It isn’t enough to open an account. Women need a reason to conduct the initial transaction.

Active Usage
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Using women-centered design, we design products that meet women’s complex needs.

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When women are treated with respect by financial service providers, they are loyal and profitable clients.

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Photo courtesy of Unilever Pakistan

Gender Lens Investing

We invest directly in financial institutions that are committed to serving low-income women.
The institutions we support benefit from our market insight, product design expertise and leadership training to more effectively serve women clients and leaders.Read more

Invested in

9 Institutions


8 Countries

Collectively serving

4.5 Million low-income women

Gender Assessment Methodology

Our unique approach to gender lens investing is designed to drive the greatest impact. By measuring internal gender diversity and external client outreach, we bring a comprehensive approach to gender lens investing.

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Leadership & Diversity

In 2017, we concluded our third annual Leadership & Diversity for Innovation Program, helping train leaders to build gender-diverse institutions around the world to better serve women clients. Find out what we learned, and where we go from here. Read more

Women leader participants have a greater scope of responsibility

Senior executive mentors are supporting the women leaders’ professional development

We’re training tomorrow’s leaders today.

The next phase of our Leadership & Diversity curriculum is here. In 2018 we’ll be offering advanced training in women-centered design and innovation and launching a leadership & diversity program for regulators.

Learn more
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Driving Action
to Serve Women
and Girls

Throughout 2017, Women’s World Banking spoke at over 70 conferences around the globe. And, in October, we hosted the Making Finance Work for Women Summit in Dar es Salaam.






41 women spoke out of a total of 57 panelists

Upcoming Events

  • NOV
    Making Finance Work for Women Summit
    Celebrating 40 Years of Women’s World Banking

    New York

  • FALL
    Making Finance Work for Women Summit

    Southeast Asia

“We must go beyond business as usual and increase our efforts toward financial inclusion for women, especially the poor.”

H.E. Samia Sululu Hassan Vice President, United Republic of Tanzania (Speaking at Making Finance Work for Women Summit, October 2017)


Join Us

We still have more to do.
Together we can get it done.

Please click the checkbox to receive email communications from Women's World Banking.

“Improving a woman’s financial access brings with it a “multiplier effect” that will be critical to realizing the potential of financial inclusion for reducing poverty and driving economic growth.”

Mary Ellen Iskenderian

(Testifying before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee)

Stichting to Promote Women’s World Banking
Board of Directors

Women’s World Banking is governed by a Board of Directors that has fiduciary responsibility over the organization, charged with approving our policies, strategies, and annual budgets. Each board member is a recognized leader in banking, finance, business, law, community organizing or women’s economic participation. This powerful combination of leaders from a variety of disciplines enhances the organization and ensures that the work of Women’s World Banking is both relevant and grounded.

  • Connie Collingsworth, Co-Chair
  • Muna Sukhtian, Co-Chair
  • Ela Bhatt,Honorary Member for Life
  • Ineke Bussemaker
  • Emer Dooley
  • Uzoma Dozie
  • Samit Ghosh
  • Nejira Nalic
  • Chinwe Onyeagoro
  • Beth K. Roberts
  • Angela Sun
  • Michael Useem
  • Michaela Walsh, Honorary Member for Life

Thank you Marleen H.J. van den Horst for her board service, which concluded in 2017.

Friends of WWB/USA, Inc.
Board of Directors

Friends of WWB/USA, Inc. supports the global mission of Women’s World Banking by raising donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals across the U.S. Chartered as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, its Board of Directors is 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

Africa Advisory Council

The Africa Advisory Council advocates for women’s financial inclusion across Africa and helps to inform our strategy across the region. It was formed in 2014 as part of the Financial Sector Deepening Africa Program, under the auspices of the Department for International Development in the U.K.

Council Members
  • Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
    Honorary Co-Chair; Former Minister of Finance, Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • Dr. Jennifer Riria
    Honorary Co-Chair; Group Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Women
  • Mark Napier
    Special Advisor; Director, Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa
  • Dougie Brew
    Director of Corporate Affairs, Communications and Sustainable Business for Unilever Africa
  • Anne-Marie Chidzero
    Co-Founder and Principal Partner at Alitheia Identity Managers
  • Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi
    Former Special Gender Envoy, African Development Bank
  • Debra Mallowah
    General Manager, East Africa, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa
    Vice Governor, National Bank of Rwanda
  • Nunu Ntshingila
    Head, Facebook Africa

Core Funders

At Women’s World Banking we value our core funding partners, in part, because they make our operations possible. But, as allies working toward increased gender equality and financial inclusion, we also value the reciprocal relationship we have with them as well. We’re proud of our partnership with these leaders in the development community and are grateful for their strategic insight and continued financial support.

Supporters Supporters



  • Visa Foundation

$500k - $20M

  • Anonymous
  • Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Credit Suisse Foundation
  • Department for International Development (DFID)
  • MetLife Foundation

$100k – $499.9

  • Cisco Foundation
  • Citi Foundation
  • ExxonMobil Foundation
  • FSDMoç
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • Swiss Capacity Building Facility (SCBF)
  • United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)
  • VISA Inc.

$25k – $99.9

  • Bloomberg
  • BNY Mellon Foundation
  • Citi Inclusive Finance
  • Data2X (United Nations Foundation)
  • Diamond Bank Plc
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation
  • FINCA Microfinance Fund B.V.
  • IFC
  • Maryfrances Metrick
  • Mastercard
  • PIMCO Foundation
  • White & Case LLP

$10k – $24.9

  • Beth Roberts and Natan Vaisman
  • CDC Group Plc
  • Colgate
  • Connie Collingsworth
  • Diebold Nixdorf
  • Elizabeth Munson
  • FSDT – Financial Sector Deepening Trust
  • International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
  • Michael Useem
  • Oliver Wyman Group
  • Triodos Bank NV

$5k – $9.9

  • Anonymous
  • EC Travel
  • Goldman Sachs Gives
  • Katherine Collins
  • Lillian Feder Foundation
  • Rockflower
  • Seattle Foundation
  • Sylvia Chin

$1k – $4.9

  • Anne Hale and Arthur Johnson Fund
  • Angela Sun
  • Chris Rich
  • Christine Bindert
  • Dorothy Roberts
  • Finance in Motion
  • Inger Dewey Golob
  • Maritta W Ko
  • Maureen O’Toole
  • May Seeman
  • Michelle Chiang
  • Paulson Charitable Foundation
  • Perri Lee Roberts & Steve Elias


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