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IFC and Itaú Unibanco Support Access to Financial Services for Women Entrepreneurs
IFC will work with Itaú Unibanco to help expand its Programa de Mulheres Empreendedoras, a unique program that supports access to finance for women entrepreneurs in Brazil.
IFC will work with Itaú Unibanco to develop a broader portfolio of financial and non-financial services to better serve companies that are owned and run by women.
IFC will support Itaú Unibanco to develop a sustainable business model, addressing areas such as financial products, distribution channels and marketing and communications strategies tailored to women entrepreneurs. It will also include methodologies to evaluate the profitability and financial projections of women-owned businesses. IFC’s advisory program with Itaú Unibanco follows a $470 million (or almost BRL 1 billion) investment made in June to help the bank expand its women-owned small and medium enterprises (SME) program. That was IFC’s first investment in the Banking on Women Program in Latin America and the largest worldwide.
More than 40 percent of businesses registered in Latin America and the Caribbean are owned by women, according to the World Bank-IFC Enterprise Surveys. However, accessing credit is a challenge for many throughout the region. Brazil has the largest credit gap, with 45 percent of women-owned SMEs pointing to access to finance as a major constraint in operating and growing their businesses.
“Women can be a powerful source of economic growth and opportunity in the private sector,” said Ghada Teima, Manager of IFC’s Access to Finance Program in Latin America and the Caribbean. “Strengthening their roles as leaders and entrepreneurs has the potential to transform entire economies.”
“This project is in line with Itaú Unibanco’s strategy for promoting financial inclusion,” said Eduardo Carlos Ferreira, Head of Itaú Unibanco’s Programa de Mulheres Empreendedoras. “We recognize that financial institutions can play a critical role in serving women entrepreneurs through sustainable and profitable programs. We are glad to be working with IFC to enhance our offerings and provide women with the opportunity to be equal partners in contributing to Brazil’s economic growth.”
IFC’s partnership with Itaú Unibanco is part of the World Bank Group’s approach to supporting government policies and priorities in Brazil that reduce gender gaps in access to quality health and education services, increase economic opportunities for women, and enhance their voices in society.
IFC’s Banking on Women Program is playing a catalytic role in helping financial institutions better serve women entrepreneurs. Since its launch in 2010, the program has made more than 20 investments totaling $569 million and 17 advisory projects in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.