Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative

  Sep 23, 2021

So much more to do...

By Wendy Teleki, Head of the We-Fi Secretariat

We are awash in data, but sometimes a single data point can stop me cold. This is one: during the pandemic, loan applications from women-led businesses have been rejected at twice the rate of those from male-led businesses. This shocking statistic validates our worst fears that the pandemic would reverse the modest gains we had been making towards gender equity in entrepreneurship, as institutions that should be serving women revert to their more traditional, more male clientele. To me, this is a call to action. Read the story here… 

Photo credit: SurfsUp/Shutterstock

Voices from the field:

Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs

We feature original stories about the dedication, struggles, and grit of women entrepreneurs that We-Fi support in developing countries.

Female entrepreneurs challenge social norms in Senegal
Traditional attitudes toward marriage and family still prevail in many parts of the world. Going against this norm to start a business while meeting the social demands of life requires courage and self-confidence. Two women entrepreneurs from Senegal share their entrepreneurial journey with us, emphasizing the importance of support systems. Read the story here...
Read More Stories


New World Bank research shows widening gaps for women entrepreneurs

The World Bank’s Enterprise Survey indicates that loan applications by women entrepreneurs were rejected at twice the rate of male entrepreneurs. In addition, women-led SMEs have seen more significant declines in sales and profits during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they have been more likely to close down. Read more here...

Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and We-Fi partner for flagship report

What are the latest trends, gaps, and opportunities to support women entrepreneurs? These are among the questions that the GEM 2020/21 Women's Entrepreneurship Report in partnership with We-Fi will seek to answer when released in October. Also, Wendy Teleki, head of We-Fi, talked to GEM in this Q & A...

EBRD and We-Fi help a furniture manufacturer go international

An entrepreneur recounts how the support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s Women in Business program, supported by We-Fi, helped her company in Mongolia, Ganbros, survived tough times and expand market reach. Read more here...

A $2.5 million investment to develop Turkish start-ups

The investment from the IFC, with We-Fi support, will focus on information technology or engineering technology-based products in various sectors. Read the story here...

Kenya’s Women Entrepreneurs Held Back from Corporate Procurement

A study published by IFC, supported by We-Fi, concludes that women face unique barriers in outsourcing their services to the private market. Read the story here...

AfDB’s AFAWA program showcased at Generation Equality Forum

African Development Bank Group's Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa initiative, which is supported by We-Fi, aims to grow women-led businesses while unlocking financing to bridge the $42 billion gap faced by women entrepreneurs in Africa. Read the story here...

ADB challenge on digitization of financing for WSMEs in Pacific

The challenge, supported by ADB and We-Fi, will help collect and analyze business data for women-led SMEs in the Pacific, which will help financial institutions make gender-focused lending decisions. The competition is open to startups, research organizations, technology providers, and corporate partners from ADB member countries. Deadline - October 8th. Read more here...


Women Informal Traders and Child Care during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This report focuses on the experience of women informal traders in Accra, Ghana; Durban, South Africa; and Nakuru, Kenya; to shed light on the multiple and intersecting challenges they faced to both earn an income and care for their young children amidst unprecedented global health, economic, and care crisis. Download the full report...

UN Women unveils new feminist roadmap for economic recovery and transformation

UN Women has published a feminist plan for economic recovery and transformation learning from the COVID-19 pandemic and previous crises: “Beyond COVID-19: A Feminist Plan for Sustainability and Social Justice.” Read more here...

Sima Sami Bahous as Executive Director of UN Women

We-Fi congratulates Ms. Sima Sami Bahous on her new appointment as the Executive Director of UN Women. The We-Fi partnership looks forward to a continued collaboration with UN Women to advance gender equality, women’s economic empowerment, and women entrepreneurship around the world.  Read more...

Photo source: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Implementing Partners


Financial Alliance for Women 2021 Summit

The annual summit tagged, "Investing in women, transforming our world," will bring together a diverse and powerful set of industry leaders to share their perspectives on catalyzing the transformative power of the female economy to shape a better tomorrow. Register here...

Women's Entrepreneurship Accelerator: Joining Forces to Drive Change

Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator will host a virtual high-level event titled “Joining Forces to Drive Change” to celebrate the second anniversary of the initiative by featuring the 2021 outcomes of the global team contributing to accelerate the transformation we need to achieve gender equality. Register here. You can also view other related events taking place during the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

The 2021 Annual Meetings

The 2021 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund will take place from Monday, October 11, through Sunday, October 17. Register here...

Global SME Finance Forum 2021

This year’s Global SME Finance Forum scheduled to take place October 18 -21 will focus on the importance of greening SME finance and its role in promoting a more resilient and sustainable growth of SMEs post-COVID-19.  Register here...
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