As entrepreneurs, women contribute significantly to national economies and job creation. They own one-third of registered businesses in developing countries. In some countries they are starting businesses at a faster rate than men.
Nevertheless, a lack of access to finance, management training, and business networks means that many women-owned enterprises may not be reaching full potential. This situation also affects women’s ability to fill management roles in other companies.
Women as Full Business Partners
IFC partners with a broad group of stakeholders to improve women entrepreneurs’ access to training, credit, and markets in developing countries. This may range from financial skills courses for SME owners as part of a women’s banking project, to working with chambers of commerce to find local solutions that enable women’s entrepreneurship.
All of these efforts support local private sector development. They also improve women’s opportunities to build supply and distribution chain relationships with IFC’s investment project clients and partners.
Targeted Training Initiatives
IFC's Business Edge program is a comprehensive, classroom-based management training curriculum that is offered through private partners in nearly 30 countries. It is good for all entrepreneurs and is often tailored to specifically reach out to women, who represent 40% of participants.
IFC accredits Business Edge training partners, trains their trainers, and provides hands-on support to the program. The courses are often delivered in collaboration with IFC donors and other partners.
For those who cannot attend courses, IFC's SME Toolkit offers free, online, self-training for a range of topics pertinent to all SME owners and managers. A special section for women entrepreneurs is included. Regional and national SME Toolkit sites are available in many countries, with local language and content made available by local partner organizations.