Gender  Priorities  Entrepreneurship


In many emerging economies, women start businesses at a faster rate than men, thereby contributing to economic growth. Yet research shows (PDF) that a disproportionate number of women-owned businesses in developing countries are micro, small, or medium enterprises that—for myriad reasons, including legal and financial obstacles—do not develop into larger-scale, job-generating firms.

Addressing the barriers women entrepreneurs face in growing their businesses, IFC works with clients to improve the business enabling environment, provide access to capital through financial institutions as well as business training, market access, peer networks, and knowledge.

These are some of IFC’s initiatives in gender:


Financial Investment Group

IFC has invested more than $1 billion in private-sector banks via its Banking on Women program and has provided advisory services to banks that want to better serve the women’s market. We enable financial institutions to better address the needs of women-owned small and medium enterprises.



Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility

In partnership with Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women initiative, IFC launched the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility. The facility will provide up to $600 million to improve access to capital for approximately 100,000 women entrepreneurs.


Women's Entrepreneurship Training

IFC's women's entrepreneurship training helps strengthen the management skills of owners, managers, and staff of small and medium enterprises. The training includes online and off-line modules on leadership, finance, and management. It also enables women entrepreneurs to flexibly tap into the knowledge of their peers and to receive business coaching.


SME Finance Forum

The SME Finance Forum is a global network for knowledge-sharing and promoting best practices that help increase access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises. The Forum provides a strong base for on- and off-line services, including a comprehensive website, announcements of events, and an active LinkedIn Group. The G-20 countries’ Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion launched the Forum under IFC Management.


Investment Climate

IFC Investment Climate specialists work with governments and the private sector to ensure that entrepreneurs can more easily register their businesses, own property, pay taxes, resolve disputes, and trade across borders.

The Trade and Competitiveness practice produces Women, Business and the Law, an analysis of the legal codes of 189 economies to show how men and women are treated differently under the law.




Examples of What We Do

Investing in Women: New Evidence for the Business Case

Women Entrepreneurs: Essential for Private-Sector Development (PDF)

Striving for Business Success: Voices of Liberian Entrepreneurs (PDF)

Case Study: Boyner Group's Supply Chain Strengthens Women in Business (PDF)

Longer Version: Boyner Group's Supply Chain Strengthens Women in Business

Investing in Women in Agribusiness


Related Links


Closing the gender finance gap: Three steps firms can take

The gender gap in financial inclusion and the 2014 Global Findex