Our Chief Product Development Officer wrote a piece on serving rural women sustainably with financial services for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It is the agency that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy.
According to the World Bank, “approximately 70% of all MSMEs in emerging markets lack access to credit,” this despite the major role they play in economic growth, especially in emerging markets. This state of affairs disproportionately affects women: data from the International Finance Corporation shows that up to “70% of women-owned SMEs in the formal sector in developing countries are unserved or underserved by financial institutions – a financing gap of around $285 billion.”
There is a particular imperative to close the financing gap for women, apart from representing a tremendous market opportunity and a good client base: women in general have lower portfolio at risk, are more loyal customers and tend to buy more products. We know that giving low-income women access to financial services contributes to the advancement of families and societies. We also know that inclusive economies are key to sustained growth—to the tune of 12% growth in income per capita in 15 emerging markets, according to Goldman Sachs.