Gender lending to promote women's entrepreneurship
On August 15, a two-day seminar on gender aspects of financing small business for representatives of 28 commercial banks kicked off in Tashkent. The seminar was organized by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry-UNDP ‘Business Forum of Uzbekistan (Phase III)' project jointly with the Women's Committee and the Central Bank. The seminar aims to empower women in Uzbekistan.
The State Programme approved by Presidential Decree UP-4947 of February 7, 2017, seeks to support female entrepreneurs and help women and college graduates find jobs in business.
According to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan, the total number of women-lead businesses account for about 10% of all the businesses in the country. Women have lower representation in business due to lack of capital, knowledge and skills to do business.
International experience demonstrates the importance of gender lending to empower women and help them start their own businesses. For example, thanks to the Royal Bank of Scotland’s businesswomen support program, already in three years from the program’s outset 40% of all new small and medium enterprises were owned by women (as of 2011).
Women entrepreneurship is an untapped but promising market for the financial sector. Recent researches have shown that banks also benefit from cooperating with businesswomen as they are less likely to default on their loans, have higher sense of responsibility with their payments, and tend to make savings. Their loyalty to the bank is manifested in a tendency to take more loans and bring new customers to the bank.
Raising bank employees’ awareness of gender issues in financing small businesses is one of the key objectives of the seminar. The event will acquaint about 60 participants with international best practices in using an integrated approach to financing and carrying out gender-sensitive microfinance policies.
As an outcome of the seminar, participants are expected to develop an action plan to implement gender aspects for improved services for women entrepreneurs and develop women-demanded products.
The ‘Business Forum of Uzbekistan (Phase-III)’ project is a joint initiative of UNDP and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry which aims to improve the business environment in the country by introducing online services, improving regulatory frameworks, and promoting inclusive business models.