Globally, there is enough and more evidence on the strong co-relation between economic opportunities for women and inclusive growth. Countries worldwide are estimated to achieve ~20% higher GDP per capita, if gender bias in labour force participation is eliminated. That said, the benefits of unlocking women’s economic empowerment go beyond economic prosperity. Given their higher propensity to spend on food, healthcare, and education of their family, women’s’ economic status can create positive ripple effects across many social dimensions. Investing in women, therefore, is one of the most compelling strategies to accelerate growth and reduce poverty.
A potentially powerful means to harness women’s potential is to bolster opportunities for them to grow their businesses and incentivize greater participation in entrepreneurship. Particularly in developing countries, where women own one-third of small businesses. This approach can create a virtuous cycle for female work force participation and empowerment. As women-led businesses are more inclined to hire women and mentor them, giving them equal power to shape their lives and contribute towards the society.
Despite these benefits, women-owned businesses face many barriers to entry and growth, with access to finance being the biggest hurdle. Studies indicate, 70% of women-owned SMEs in developing countries are unserved or under-served by financial institutions, amounting to a financing gap – and opportunity – of nearly $285 billion. This Concordia Live, hosted in partnership with SAMRIDH Blended Finance Facility, supported by USAID and IPE Global, will discuss how we can bring a gender lens to investments that target greater participation of women in entrepreneurship and its merits towards solving complex socio-economic challenges in emerging countries.
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