Study after study has found that one of the best ways to jump-start a sluggish economy is to invest in women, because when women take part in the formal economy, they pull their families and communities out poverty.
Still, many women face barriers that undermine their ability to start or to expand their businesses. In particular, in many countries, women find it very difficult to access financial services. Too often they cannot secure a loan, or they are charged a far higher interest rate than are men.
In late February, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell joined representatives from Kiva and the Inter-American Development Bank to launch the Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund, an initiative that will help expand access to finance for women in 83 countries.
When lenders respond to a woman entrepreneur’s request for a loan through Kiva’s online platform, the Fund will match their contributions dollar for dollar.
At the same time, the Fund will collect data and measure how effective the initiative is in expanding women’s access to finance. The data will help illustrate the financial needs and activity of women entrepreneurs around the world.
The Women’s Entrepreneurial Fund initiative seeks to improve the lives of women by removing limits on their ability to fully participate in the formal economy.