The World Bank announced last Saturday the creation of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) to finance and support women entrepreneurs in developing countries. The project, which is worth over $1 billion, was initiated five months ago by Ivanka Trump, the daughter, and advisor to the US president, Donald Trump.
The goal of the We-Fi is to leverage donor grant funding, currently over $325 million, to unlock more than $1 billion from international financial institutions (IFIs) and commercial financing by working with financial intermediaries, funds, and other market actors.
The initiative, which is the first led by the World Bank to advance women’s entrepreneurship at this scale, will improve access to capital, provide technical assistance, and invest in other projects and programs that support women and women-led SMEs in World Bank Group client countries.
One of the motives to launch the fund, according to the World Bank is that one of the major constraints limiting female-led enterprises is access to financial services. Nearly 70 percent of women-owned SMEs in developing countries are either shut out by financial institutions or are unable to receive financial services on adequate terms to meet their needs. It is estimated that women-owned entities represent just over 30 percent of formal, registered businesses worldwide.