The EBRD Women in Business Programme

Exploring EBRD’s SME and Gender Commitments

Nick Tesseyman introduced the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s approach to the Women’s Market, describing how the organization supports its partner banks with financial propositions as well as training and other non-financial services. Four practitioners shared their experiences in developing and launching programs, agreeing that long-term success requires that the program be embedded in the banks, that it is supported from the top, that a clear business case is determined and that government should be involved for a larger-scale culture shift in the country.

Key Points

    • The EBRD as an organization is committed to supporting SMEs, with a focus on gender. They are currently working with 30 institutions on Women in Business programs. The bank has a growing number of partner financial institutions, currently supporting 17 million euros of donor funding. However, EBRD seeks to address not just the needs of these partner institutions, but the needs of the entire ecosystem.
    • EBRD’s support for institutions is around access to finance as well as access to know-how through tools such as mentoring, coaching and training.

EBRD Panel Master Class 2017 Summit

    • Many of the markets the EBRD works in are developing economies where entrepreneurs are key drivers. Many partners are also new banks that are looking for the opportunity to differentiate themselves.
    • Women are a business growth opportunity, not a CSR activity. Banks successfully serving women are providing both financial products as well as robust non-financial services.
    • In Turkey, there is a huge demand for financial and non-financial services targeting women’s SMEs. Simla, who formerly headed the Women’s Market program at TEB in Turkey, discussed the bank’s strong non-financial services proposition for women, including both in-person and digital education and information offerings, in-depth trainings for business leaders, access to markets, as well as mentoring and coaching. She noted that branch managers are trained to help business owners create and execute business plans.
    • At Forte Bank JSC in Kazakhstan, achieving buy-in for the Women’s Market program was difficult. Proving the business case was critical, as were trainings around gender, particularly with middle management. Senior-level support also helped create momentum throughout the bank. This program includes lower pricing for women’s offerings as well as targeted marketing and seminars for women business owners.

EBRD Panel Master Class 2017 Summit 2

  • TBC Bank in Georgia saw women as a huge business opportunity. As a step to help increase its outreach to women, the bank took an existing financial education course and used marketing to raise awareness of its existence among women.
  • TEB Kosovo recognizes the need for a larger-scale cultural shift, involving government institutions and creative learning to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit among youth. Other banks agreed that governments need to be involved from a policy perspective.
  • Simla added that for the program to succeed it must also be embedded in the organization and not positioned solely as a marketing initiative.

EBRD Master Class 2017 Summit


Investment Director and Head of Financial Institutions, Equity; CDC Group

First Deputy CEO, Forte Bank JSC

Deputy Managing Director, TEB Kosovo

Deputy CEO MSME, TBC Bank

Managing Director for Financial Institutions, EBRD

Marketing, SME Specialist; BNP Paribas Internal Retail Banking


Success with the Women’s Market often requires an internal culture shift for an organization.
— Maria Largey

There was quite a bit of skepticism about the program at the bank, so we have to show its profitability.
— Guram Adnronikashvili

Entrepreneurs are key drivers to develop the country, and we can help support those entrepreneurs.
— Dren Krypa

Targeting the Women’s Market increases the size of the pie, rather than banks fighting for the same traditional pieces.
— Nikoloz Kurdiani

The EBRD is focusing on taking a more intensive approach to develop strategies for gender equality.
— Nick Tesseyman

This initiative is bringing all of the stakeholders together. The ecosystem is mature, promising and dynamic.
— Simla Unal