IFC uses its role as a mobilizer to stimulate specific markets for product and service categories with high impact potential for sustainable development. How these burgeoning markets respond to women’s needs is just as important to their success as how they respond to men’s needs.
The financial power of women as consumers is projected to reach $28 trillion by 2014, up from $20 trillion in 2009. Much of this is concentrated in the developing world, including poor women consumers whose collective household spending adds to hundreds of billions of dollars. In many countries, women can have as much, or more, influence over household and family spending than men.
Catalyzing Markets to Enable Individuals
Focus areas for IFC’s market transformation activities include microfinance, to enable more entrepreneurs to succeed and to smooth consumption patterns in poor households; off-grid lighting, to enable people to be more productive even if they have no access to electricity; and education, to give more, quality, options to all people in developing countries for enhanced skills and knowledge.
Each of these areas is important for women’s productivity and economic empowerment, as well as men’s. By recognizing women’s consumer roles and by stimulating these markets, IFC is helping close the gender gap. This is good for business for everyone.