The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative aims at destroying barriers for women’s entrepreneurial activity. We-fi’s actions space from public to private sector, from small to medium-size businesses and form local to national projects, providing an unprecedented opportunity for women-owned enterprises.
Only 30% of SMEs are owned and run by women, 70% of women-owned businesses have no access to financial organizations, discrimination against working women results in a $300 billion annual credit deficit for SMEs. We-fi is an ambitious project aiming at destroying these barriers and unlocking women’s potential. Economics, financial and technological barriers obstacle women’s vital contribution to growth, prosperity and business development.
Elected among Forbes’ “100 World’s Most Powerful Women 2017”, Ivanka Trump has risen as a weighty voice in the White House. It is the first time in the history of the ranking that the First Daughter steals the scene the First Lady, President Trump’s senior advisor has truly played an influential role. Widely contested and strongly criticized, Ivanka Trump has never ceased to carry out her “unprecedented role” and from the very beginning of the administration, she has provided “insights into the concerns of people whom he might not meet as President” (Gorelick). As an active self-proclaimed women’s right advocate, Ivanka’s initiative are focused around women’s empowerment that “fight for equal pay for equal work”. (Ivanka Trump)
With this ideas in mind, at the G20 leader’s summit in Hamburg, Ivanka announced to bring 1$ billion to help women entrepreneurs in emerging markets through the creation of Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative. This global platform is a financial intermediary facility managed by the World Bank that seeks to advance women’s entrepreneurship and to increase their access to the necessary means to start and grow a business in developing countries. We-fi is a great challenge, but also a great opportunity as pointed out by World Bank President JIM Yong Kim “no country, organization, or economy can reach its full potential and meet the challenges of the 21st century without the full and equal participation of women and men.” It is only through fair inclusion that we can obtain growth, prosperity and success.
Just few months after the G20 Summit, We-fi was launched with great success. It was expecting $200 million in countries’ grants and $800 million from financial institutions, the target was significantly exceeded. We-fi has received a very positive response from insurance companies, private equity funds, venture capitalists and many other market actors who have engaged in increasing women’s economics empowerment. We-fi’s actions space from public to private sector, from small to medium-size businesses and form local to national projects, providing an unprecedented opportunity for women-owned enterprises. Getting more women engaged in work is a real economic opportunity that can lead radical changes in entire communities. It is an ambitious initiative, however, if it succeeds everybody wins. Countries can only succeed if everyone has equal rights, opportunities and most importantly equal access to finance, markets technology and networks.
Nowadays 70% of women-owned, small and medium-size businesses can’t afford the necessary funding, as women’s ownership is considered to be a supplementary risk for investment. Women are not only negatively affected by the credit deficit, but they also face barriers in accessing the technology and networks necessary to develop a business. We-fi will try to destroy these barriers in order to give women entrepreneurs real, equal and fair opportunities. It is the first fund committed to combine countries’ reforms and contributions with private investments. Unlike most other programs which mainly provided grants and cheaper loans, We-fi is truly innovative as it incentivizes equity investors to step in. subsidies from We-Fi will be provided through banks that will award the funds after evaluating the projects’ potentials.
The fund will be managed by the World Bank and controlled by a committee representing the fourteen donors’ countries. Ms. Trump will not be directly involved in the fundraising activities, but she will rather act as a mentor and a “strong advocate”. Although Ivanka’s goals seems to diverge from President Trump’s “Make America great again” policy, the US and all other donors could also highly benefit from this initiative as it would add $12 trillion to the global economy (McKinsey 2015). We are looking forward to seeing this innovative project into action!
Women in Business_Bocconi Female Students Association