PRESS RELEASE | Women Microfinance Leaders Gather in Mexico to Promote Industry Leadership

April 10, 2014

With support from MetLife Foundation, Women’s World Banking hosts women leaders from across Latin America

MEXICO CITY – Women’s World Banking hosts the Women in Leadership Program in Mexico City, Mexico this week. With support from MetLife Foundation, the five-day program aims to improve professional development among talented women microfinance leaders.

In order to serve low-income clients well, financial institutions must have strong leaders who can take risks, challenge conventions, and understand their clients’ needs. Since 2006, 252 women representing 109 microfinance institutions in 56 countries have completed the Women in Leadership program, which provides opportunities for women to analyze their leadership style and build a personal development plan. Past participants share stories of personal revelations and transformations as well as significant outcomes for their institutions, including promotions, better portfolios, increased staff and more branch openings.

“We are thrilled to gather these inspirational women in Mexico,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking. “Leadership plays an irreplaceable role in driving change, the kind of change needed to bring women into the formal financial sector. This program enables women, a group historically under-recognized for their potential, to strengthen their leadership skills, successfully navigate growth and change in their institutions and better serve the needs of their clients.”

According to the World Bank’s Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) Database, 35 percent of Latin American women do not have an account at a formal financial institution, underscoring the need for women leaders in financial institutions who can serve low-income clients well. In the host country of Mexico, the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Global Gender Gap Report shows that women in Mexico make up just 15 percent of top managers and seven percent of boards of listed companies. The Women in Leadership program seeks to address this underrepresentation by ensuring that women are equipped with skills necessary to advance their leadership.

The Mexico program will welcome about 24 women leaders, with between five and 20 years of experience, who are motivated to take on new challenges and leadership opportunities. The women represent microfinance institutions from across Latin America, including Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Dominican Republic. During the five-day workshop, the women will reflect on microfinance, leadership styles, organizational culture, diversity, negotiation, building networks and best practices to better meet the financial needs of their communities.

“We’re pleased to support Women’s World Banking’s efforts to develop the next generation of women leaders within the microfinance industry,” said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “We believe that affordable, accessible, and well-designed financial services can transform the lives of those in need. Through this valuable program, women leaders will be better equipped to serve clients with fundamental resources that can improve and protect the lives of their families, businesses and communities.”

Women’s World Banking is a network of 39 global microfinance institutions united in the firm commitment to serving women as clients, innovators and leaders. Strong leadership is essential for ensuring that innovative products, tailored specifically for low-income women, are sustainable for institutions.

MetLife is also supporting Women’s World Banking to deliver a Senior Management Program to a member of the network in Latin America later this year. This four day in-house program is designed to maximize the performance and impact of senior teams in microfinance institutions. The course addresses two critical success factors of any organization: building an effective and cohesive senior team, and enhancing critical management and leadership skills required to sustain institutional performance.