In 2014 we launched an innovative Women in Business programme that brings together financing and advisory services for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) led by women.

In the Bank’s region, such SMEs tend to be relatively small and to focus on economic activities with low added value. Reasons for this include legal and cultural barriers to accessing capital, restricted opportunities for acquiring business management skills and the frequent need to reconcile business and family responsibilities. At the same time, credit supply is restricted as many financial institutions have limited understanding of women-led SMEs as a market segment.

The Women in Business programme helps to address these issues by providing dedicated credit lines for women entrepreneurs. It also offers tailored advice and training to increase their know-how and networking opportunities. In addition, the programme advises partner financial institutions on how to reach more potential borrowers among women entrepreneurs through improved marketing and product development and by introducing a risk-mitigation scheme.

Women in Business credit lines were signed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt and Turkey in 2014 and the programme is being developed across a wider range of countries. It benefits from the generous support of donors, including the European Union.

Credit supply is limited for women-led SMEs

The programme benefits from the generous support of donors