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Letter from Inez: August 2017

Monday 28th August 2017

Inez MurrayAs we savor the last moments of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s a delight to welcome our latest member — Vietnam Prosperity Bank — to the Alliance. With revenues growing 30–40 percent annually for the past few years, the envy of many a bank, VPBank is now making a concerted effort to become the bank of choice for women in Vietnam with the support of IFC. In this month’s newsletter we spoke to Kai Jin Fung, Head of the SME Banking Division, about their progress to date with unsecured lending to women-owned informal businesses and their new strategy to deliver a holistic value proposition to women-owned/led formal SMEs, 25 percent of which they already bank. VPBank has similarly impressive internal diversity numbers, with 33 percent of the bank’s senior managers and 35 percent of the board being women. While fast growth brings its own challenges, VPBank’s investment in providing robust non-financial services to SMEs to build customer loyalty has echoes of TEB’s commitment in Turkey, and we look forward to a fruitful partnership all around.

Moving to HBL in Pakistan, our resource of the month is an interesting analysis of the impact that IFC’s Gender Intelligence training had on the organization, including larger deposit volumes in branches where managers had been trained compared to branches where managers had not been trained, overall measurable increases in support for women among those trained and increased confidence levels of the women themselves. The training sought to help employees understand the business case for targeting women as customers, increase staff awareness of the importance of gender diversity and create a supportive environment for women. Topics covered included gender awareness, the Women’s Market opportunity in Pakistan, new services offered to women under HBL’s Nisa Women’s Market platform and training on how to sell to women. In a country that ranks 143 out of 144 nations in gender equity, this organization-wide training was much needed to build buy-in and support among HBL’s 14,000 strong workforce.

An abridged version of this IFC training will be offered to 2017 GBA Summit attendees the day after the Summit, November 17, at Said Business School at Oxford University. A reminder to all GBA members to register for the Summit now, and to financial institutions that are not yet members but are interested in attending, please reach out to us for more information.

This month we are also proud to announce a new partnership with International Development Research Centre (IDRC), an organization that supports research and knowledge sharing to drive financial inclusion. IDRC has embraced GBA’s commercial approach to closing the financial inclusion gender gap, and we very much look forward to collaborating on a range of programmatic activities that will increase our impact.

GBA’s success is because of the work of our members who deliver value each day to the women that they serve. An example this month is Centenary Bank, which has been nominated for several awards at the upcoming 2017 Digital Impact Awards Africa, including Best Financial Inclusion Product/Service for its Cente SupaWoman Women’s Market program launched in 2015. The bank has trained more than 20,000 Ugandan women entrepreneurs to increase their business skills and financial literacy and in 2016 launched a pioneering health insurance product that covers in-patient and out-patient services, maternity as well as dental and optical. The product provides access to quality services at an affordable price. Available to Cente SupaWoman members only, the product has been so popular that it has become a major driver of the Club’s membership growth.

We at the GBA secretariat applaud such innovation and are grateful to our ever-larger group of members and partners.

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