Natalia Tavlintseva’s hardware company has expanded across Russia and now employs 250 people. © TransKapitalBank
Natalia Tavlintseva knows first-hand the challenges that women face in the business world.
She has been running a mid-sized hardware company in Russia for two decades, and during that time she has had to prove herself time and again. "Like it or not, people are often skeptical about the abilities of businesswomen," says Tavlintseva, whose firm, Zitar-Snab, supplies screws, nails, and other supplies to builders. She has come across people who think “women are passive owners, with few real business skills."
TransKapitalBank, one of leading Russian lenders, knows otherwise. The bank, financed through IFC’s Banking on Women program, has long been a strong supporter of women entrepreneurs, and several years ago it provided Zitar-Snab with a loan that helped in its expansion. Today, Tavlintseva’s firm has 12 offices across Russia and employs 250 people.
TransKapitalBank’s track record backing women entrepreneurs is one of the reasons IFC provided it with a $50 million loan in 2013. Half of that financing was designed to help the bank extend loans to small- and medium-sized businesses owned or operated by women. This was part of IFC’s wide-reaching effort to support gender equality across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The pursuit of gender equality in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is key because women still have far fewer economic opportunities than men, despite some progress in recent years. Only five in 10 women in the region work outside the home, whereas seven in 10 men do. And those with jobs earn about 30 percent less than their male colleagues. Women-owned small businesses often struggle to get loans and need on average $86,000 in credit in order to thrive.
To help address this inequality, IFC works with private sector companies to boost female employment and entrepreneurship. We channel funding to banks that lend to women entrepreneurs and help promote the business case for gender diversity in the workplace.
Since 2013, IFC has helped lenders channel 225,000 loans to female-owned micro-enterprises and 8,000 loans to small- and medium-sized businesses run by women. The total value of these loans is almost $270 million. Just as important, our clients employed 500,000 women between 2014 and 2016, and provided opportunities for education to 30,000 women.
These efforts support individual women while also creating jobs and spurring growth. This is because companies and countries that tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of women routinely grow faster and perform better than those that do not.
Natalia Tavlintseva can testify to the wide-reaching results that follow policies that provide women access to finance. Her company’s long-term partnership with TransKapitalBank helped it expand to attract 10,000 clients across Russia. Tavlintseva believes that there is potential for many more women to succeed, and she looks forward to a level playing field that offers business opportunities to all.
"If women have more support, they will be able to take their rightful place alongside men in the business community," says Tavlintseva.
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Published in March 2017