All-Stars Academy in LAC Looks to Jumpstart Banks’ Women’s Market Interest, Know-How

Tuesday 30th May 2017

The GBA’s first major peer learning event of the year brought nearly 50 students from 23 banks and international finance organizations across Latin America and the Caribbean to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, for an intensive 4-day program that aimed to catalyze interest and ability among the region’s banks to serve women customers effectively. The event, which was the first in a series of regional All-Stars Academies being conducted by the GBA, was hosted by LAC regional best practice bank Banco BHD León, and sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB Group), its Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), as well as FMO, the Dutch Development Bank.

Margarita CDF All Stars 2017
Vice-President of the Dominican Republic Margarita Cedeño de Fernández

The All-Stars Academy LAC kicked off with a Women’s Market Master Class, exploring the strategies that have moved the needle on women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment around the world. Vice-President of the Dominican Republic Margarita Cedeño de Fernández delivered the keynote address at the Master Class, where she discussed the critical role women play in business and economic growth and the importance of the financial services sector to women’s economic empowerment.

“Recent research has found that greater gender equality results in a higher GDP per capita and that the participation of women in the labor force, generating income, translates into higher economic growth, with a significant multiplier effect on society as a whole,” she said. “The question we have to ask ourselves is: How prepared are we to respond to the financial needs of women? … [Banks and other stakeholders need to] assume the commitment to give women access to financial services, so that they can develop their ideas and be a good source of growth and job creation for our economies.”

The keynote was followed by a panel discussion on how public-private partnerships can help close economic gender gaps, featuring Dominican Republic Minister of Women Janet Camilo; Deputy Director General of Banca Emprendedora at Mexican development bank Nacional Financiera, Tonatiuh Salinas Muñoz; National Programme Officer for UN Women in the Dominican Republic, Miosotis Rivas Peña; Lead Specialist for Financial Intermediaries Transactions in Latin America at the IIC, Susan Olsen; and Quantum Leaps CEO Jennifer Bisceglie; and moderated by Banco BHD León General Manager Steven Puig. The group explored the challenges women face globally in accessing financial services and the interventions from various ecosystem actors that have worked to help women overcome these barriers.

Throughout the All-Stars Academy, experts from four GBA best practice banks spoke about their own success stories with the Women’s Market, sharing the latest initiatives they have implemented to bank women better. Some highlights included:

  • Banco BHD León’s Daniel Gutiérrez, Vice President of Digital Transformation, and Carolina Ureña, Vice President of Products and Innovation, discussed the bank’s strategy of product bundling and its latest results that highlight the immense value that women place on insurance products.
  • Karyl Akilian, Head of Brand Management for BLC Bank’s We Initiative, discussed the bank’s rationale for developing a separate sub-brand for its Women’s Market program and how its success has resulted in a key differentiating strategy and a strong business case for the Lebanese bank.
  • Small Business Manager Soledad Ovando Green shared BancoEstado’s evolution from its BancoEstadoMicroempresas initiative to the CreceMujer Emprendedora program, and discussed the bank’s newest plans to develop practical methodologies to measure the impact of financial services for women business owners .
  • Simla Ünal, Marketing and Business Development Manager at TEB in Turkey, highlighted the importance of non-financial services for the Women’s Market and gave an update on the latest ways the bank is meeting the non-financial needs of its female SME clients through the development of its newest Coaching program: TEB Star Cluster.

All-Stars LAC 2017 GroupThe All-Stars audience in attendance and participating on social media around the world was highly engaged, leading to fruitful discussions in the room and the #AllStarsAcademy hashtag trending in the Dominican Republic throughout the week.

The next regional All-Stars Academy will be held in Zambia June 19-22, hosted by the Bank of Zambia and sponsored by FMO; UK Aid; the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency; IFC, a member of the World Bank Group; FSD Africa; and FSD Zambia.