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Smart Economics To Invest In Women Entrepreneurs

By Ideas Lab Staff October 18, 2012

The managing director for the World Bank Group claims it is not only prejudicial but economically short-sighted to deprive women-owned businesses of the opportunity to expand.

It’s smart economics to invest in women entrepreneurs, argues Caroline Anstey, Managing Director for the World Bank Group, pointing to American women as an example.

In a recent blog post for the World Bank Group, Anstey lamented the lack of support for female entrepreneurs in many parts of the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, women who apply for business loans don’t get them, she says. In Guatemala, she cites, “self-employed women are half as likely as self-employed men to have access to credit”.

It’s not just discriminatory, but bad economics, Anstey argues. She points to the U.S., where the rate of growth of women-owned firms is double that of all others.

“It’s estimated they contribute nearly $3 trillion to the U.S. economy, and are directly responsible for 23 million jobs,” she writes.

To try to counter this, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, plans for at least 25 percent of loans going to small and medium sized firms through financial intermediaries ends up with women-owned businesses.

The World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law Initiative illustrates data from 142 countries that shows where women’s economic rights and their ability to access finance are impacted by  the law in those countries.

And the IFC has partnered with several state banks in countries like Nigeria and Uganda, to work on women-specific business programs.