Day 2 Summary
I would like to thank you all again for your participation in this Online Forum. We have had some rich discussion over the past three days and will be sending out some post-event resources to you all within a week's time.
During the second part of the Forum, we moved from talking about specific challenges and opportunities for women SME borrowers to looking at the same from the lender perspective. Anna started us off on Wednesday by asking how lenders can best target and market to women borrowers. She referenced the recently released Ghana case study that stated that, in this particular example, men and women were found to respond differently to marketing approaches and asked whether participants had found similar experiences in their work. The importance of relationships with a financial institution was highlighted by multiple participants as integral to marketing to and working with women borrowers. Rebecca Ruf shared that from her experience at the Global Banking Alliance for Women, the most successful programs were those that specifically target women and have a holistic approach that can include access to information, financial education, and help with linking to markets. Jessica Alfaro shared resources from a regional training event hosted by the Small Business Banking Network and highlighted two specific products that had been successful in reaching women borrowers: Equity Bank Tanzania's Fanikisha loan product and the Velvet and Fursati programs offered by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
We moved into discussing specific constraints and opportunities for lenders financing women-owned SMEslater in the day on Wednesday. In this post, Megan Rapp specifically asked about participants' perspective and experiences in looking at collateral from the lender's perspective. Many challenges that women face regarding collateral were discussed including limited access to land and fixed assets. The DCB bank in India and the DFCU bank in Uganda were both offered as examples of financial institutions that have developed a loan products that addresses the challenge that many women face in providing sufficient collateral. Using a cash-flow analysis instead of strict collateral guidelines could possible help women borrowers but additional TA would likely need to be conducted for both lenders and borrowers to ensure that both groups have a solid understanding of this type of analysis.
The final topic of the discussion looked at sustainability where I provided some examples of how DCA promotes sustainable practices during its interventions. Some examples include providing technical assistance through a training of trainers model as well as partnering with local governments to ensure buy-in. Megan pointed out that sustainability is about more than just utilization since it also includes behavior change from both the borrower and lender side. Bridget Irene noted that in order to ensure sustainability, societal perceptions regarding women have to change. She provided an example from a bank in Nigeria where bank officials were designated as "relationship managers" for selected women borrowers and were held responsible for stock buying and bookkeeping. Evidence-backed approaches that demonstrate the benefits of lending to women borrowers could be one way to address established societal perceptions to facilitate better access to finance for women.
Again, we hope that you found the discussion over the past few days useful. Please make sure to let us know what you thought and also to offer any ideas for future topics that you would be interested in discussing by taking this short survey.
Please feel free to continue this discussion as long as you would like! While the email notifications will be turned off tonight, the online space will remain open for further discussion.
Joseph Obi, USAID/DCA