This week is a big one for the Leadership and Diversity Team at Women’s World Banking. After more than a year of preparation, working closely with The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Creative Metier, the Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program is kicking off on Wednesday, April 15 in New York City with a three-day Executive Forum for the fifteen senior leaders who have been accepted into this new program.

LeadershipDiversityInnovationProgram-WomensWorldBankingThe goal of the Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program is to achieve institutional change by equipping leaders of financial institutions with the training and tools for innovation and capacity building to better serve low-income women. The three-day forum is the first phase of a year-long program by Women’s World Banking, implemented in partnership with Credit Suisse with additional support from the Cisco Foundation, which pairs a senior leader and a woman leader or high-potential woman employee from each participating institution to solve a challenge facing their institution. This might be growing the business responsibly, creating more gender diverse work places, or using technology and alternative channels to reach women in rural, and therefore underserved, areas.

We were impressed by the caliber of the applications from financial institutions big and small from around the world and are proud to welcome the following leaders to this one-of-a-kind program:

  • Ms. Loise Muya, General Manager, Equity Bank Ltd., Kenya
  • Mr. Dumisani Chatima Nkhata, Chief Finance Officer, NBS Bank Limited, Malawi
  • Ms. Peris Maina, General Manager (Finance), Kenya Women Microfinance Bank Limited, Kenya
  • Ms. Mercedes Canalda de Beras Goico, Presidente Ejecutiva, Banco de Ahorro y Credito ADOPEM, S.A. , Dominican Republic
  • Mr. Eyad Nino, Deputy GM- Strategic Planning & Operations, Microfund for Women, Jordan
  • Ms. Juliana de Leon, Sr. Operations Director, CARD, Inc., Philippines
  • Mr. Seedy Njie, COO, Reliance Financial Services, The Gambia
  • Ms. Herminigilda Manuba, AVP for Operation, CARD Bank Inc., Philippines
  • Ms. Carol Furtado, Chief Operating Officer – South, Ujjivan Financial Services Pvt Ltd, India
  • Mr. Dennis Kakeeto, Executive Director, Finance Trust Bank, Uganda
  • Mr. Amir Nafie, Deputy Executive Director  , Lead Foundation , Egypt
  • Ms. Roshaneh Zafar, Chief Executive Officer, Kashf Foundation, Pakistan
  • Mr. Felipe Velasco Melo, Executive director, Fundacion Mundo Mujer, Colombia
  • Ms. Pisak Peaing, Head of Human Resources Department, AMK Microfinance Institution Plc., Cambodia
  • Ms. Leila Freedman, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships, Pro Mujer, Inc., Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru,  Mexico and Argentina

The inaugural cohort includes a variety of institutions – from regulated banks to NGOs. This diversity provides an additional layer of peer learning, on top of the learning opportunities provided by the mix of regions, area of oversight and challenges brought in by the participants as they go through the curriculum we have meticulously designed for them.

The theme for the first day is “Leadership for Innovation” where participants will meet each other for the first time and break out into peer groups around their business challenge. The day includes a session with Mike Useem, Director of the Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management on ‘Leading the Enterprise,” discussing critical leadership capacities and what is most needed in challenging times. Day two is “Focus on the Customer,” featuring Martin Ihrig, Adjunct Associate Professor at The Wharton School, on tools for customer driven innovation and Cathleen Tobin, Director of Product Development at Women’s World Banking, on how to use research when investing in the women’s market. The last day, “Implementing Strategic Business Initiatives” brings in Kathy Pearson, Adjunct Associate Professor at The Wharton School, on critical decision making and Jennifer McDonald, Savings Manager at Women’s World Banking, on women-centric product design and the leader’s role in innovation. The day wraps up with concrete action planning and participants selecting an accountability partner to help them through the program successfully. Throughout the three days, Creative Metier will work with participants to develop capabilities and strategies for investing in and internally developing women staff through a more strategic approach to human resources.

Our executives have a busy schedule this week, but also for the rest of the year as they work on their innovation challenges and encourage gender diversity within their institutions. In September, the women leaders will attend our flagship Women in Leadership workshop in India. Women’s World Banking, Creative Metier and The Wharton School will be supporting the teams throughout the year through executive coaching, webinars, an online community,  a Leadership Roundtable and a culminating event with both senior leaders and their selected high-potential women leaders. Leadership development takes time and through this multi-touchpoint, comprehensive approach, participants in the program will return to their institutions with powerful lessons and best practices for promoting diversity within their institutions and serving low-income women with essential financial products and services.