Making Finance Work for Women for 45 Years | Manal

May 10, 2024

To celebrate Women’s World Banking’s 45th anniversary, we are showcasing the voices of individuals from around the world who have shaped and touched Women’s World Banking journey. These are stories from across Women’s World Banking’s reach from the women we serve and our customers, to allies and women in leadership who have contributed to women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion.

Meet Manal, a woman entrepreneur in Cairo, Egypt. She loved knitting since she was a young girl, and as she developed her skills, she began crocheting for her friends and neighbors. When she realized there was high demand for her products, Manal decided to turn her passion into a business—all she needed was access to capital.

“Since the age of 12, I have loved knitting. I would take things apart and put them back together again. I used to crochet for my friends and neighbors. They all loved my work and would ask me for more. So I decided to take it to the next level.”

Women’s World Banking worked with Global Network Member Lead Foundation to design a women-centered lending methodology, supporting entrepreneurs like Manal by providing them with individual loans for their businesses. We also provided research on cultural sensitivity around men interacting with women, which drove Lead to train and hire more women loan officers to assist in their outreach to low-income women.

Having a woman loan officer explain the individual loan made all the difference to Manal, who felt free and comfortable to welcome her into her home and speak with her. “I thought it sounded great,” she said about the loan. Manal hopes to continue to grow her business and hire more employees. Lead became an ally she would not have made had her loan coordinator been a man.

Since the start of the project, Lead Foundation’s female clients have doubled, significantly expanding their reach to women entrepreneurs like Manal.

Women’s World Banking is dedicated to economic empowerment through financial inclusion for the nearly one billion women in the world with no or limited access to formal financial services.​ Using our sophisticated market and consumer research, we turn insights into real action to design and advocate for policy engagement, digital financial solutions, workplace leadership programs, and gender lens investing.​

As part of our current strategy, we’ve helped provide 37 million women in emerging markets – targeting 100 million by 2027 – access and use of financial products and services that are transforming women’s lives, households, businesses and communities, and driving inclusive growth globally.

Help us reach the nearly billion women still excluded from the formal financial system. Donate now.