The world needs to work for women

At a recent event with CARE, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands said: “We need to show financial institutions that there is a strong business case for serving female entrepreneurs”.

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Written by Dewi Keppy

Financial inclusion has been on the agenda of CARE for many years. In that context we participated in the Power of Partnerships event on March 12 organised by Dutch Development Bank FMO, Better Future and the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam. Women entrepreneurs, financial institutions, women business networks, NGOs and governments from all over the world came together to discuss how to make finance work for women entrepreneurs.

Two billion poor people around the world – particularly women – are financially excluded. That means they don’t have a safe place to save money, or access to affordable loans. As a consequence they are unable to safely put money aside to help meet future needs and can’t save money to invest in starting or growing a business. Even though progress has been made, many women around the world do not have access to loans and financial services to turn a business opportunity.

Uthura Narayanan, chief changemaker at Buzz India, stated:

"We should not only make finance work for women, the world needs to work for women."

One of the key note speakers of the event, Uthura Narayan from Buzz India, mentioned that if there is access to finance, it is often only on paper. Meaning that social norms and embedded stereotypes restrict women from having this access. For this reason she called upon the world to work for women, not just finance.

Power of Partnerships
With the above mentioned, it becomes clear that non-financial services are as important for women entrepreneurs as loans and accounts. It is precisely for this reason that CARE was invited to be part of the agenda-setting event Power of Partnerships, Making Finance work for Women Entrepreneurs. We were asked to speak about our experiences in non-financial services and on how we can make finance work towards achieving gender equality.

In the presence of Queen Máxima, women entrepreneurs from emerging markets, financial institutions from both emerging and established markets, and women business networks and organizations, CARE organized two round-table sessions during this event.

 

During the first session Sandra Xíquin, one of the programme participants from the Women in Enterprise programme spoke about her journey to become an entrepreneur. Not only was she able to inspire the attendees, she also gained insights and advice from experts in the room. If you want to know how Sandra experienced the event, please read the interview here.

The second round table focussed on the central theme of the event: The Power of Partnerships. During this session, Reintje van Haeringen (Programme Manager Women in Enterprise) and Maria Bystedt (Programme Manager H&M Foundation), spoke about their successful partnership since 2014. As van Haeringen mentioned: “The partnership between CARE and H&M Foundation is based on a belief in the power of women, in their resourcefulness, their initiative and their potential.” When Maria was asked to reflect on the success of the partnership she said: “In our partnership with CARE we have a trust-based approach and a willingness to adapt quickly, within the programme. This creates a dynamic programme which is innovative and genuinely demand-driven.”

New allies
Of course the Power of Partnership event was a great opportunity to speak about best practices in partnering with different organizations. Yet the organization of the event explicitly encouraged all attendees to think about new, perhaps unconventional, partnerships to make finance work for women. And we believe that this has been a great start to create more impact, and serves as an opportunity to build a future where the world works for women.

 

“I discovered that there are women fighters all around the world.”

Sandra Xiquín from Guatemala, who featured in our ‘Unlikely Entrepreneur?’ campaign, visited the Netherlands in March. She was invited to speak at a high profile event on women entrepreneurs, at which Queen Maxima of the Netherlands was also speaking. Here, she tells us about her visit.

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