Ensuring women have better access to financial tools and services is necessary to move the needle toward gender equality. Today, women are far less likely to receive funding across the capital spectrum, from large private equity investments to microfinance loans.
In the U.S. alone, women receive only 4% of small business loans from mainstream financial institutions. Women living below the poverty line face even steeper odds: many of them lack the bank accounts and credit scores required for banks to approve funding.
And on the other side of the spectrum, women entrepreneurs seeking millions in venture capital financing to build and scale their start-ups are hampered by this pattern, too, with only 2% of all VC investment flowing to women-led enterprises.
Yet closing these funding gaps for women-owned and -led businesses could add $5-6 trillion in net value to the global economy, not to mention meaningful empowerment for women across the globe.
Among the organizations fighting to move that needle are microfinance organizations like Grameen America, Inc. (GAI), which makes micro-business loans to U.S. women living below the poverty line, and WaterEquity, which provides debt capital to financial institutions to scale their water and sanitation financing to low-income consumers and water and sanitation enterprises (notably, 95% of end-clients directly supported by their investments are women).
This impact story originally appeared in our 2023 Impact Report.
Photo courtesy of Grameen America.