New Women's Market Research Reveals Four Myths Banks Believe about the Female Economy

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Global Banking Alliance for Women to explore study, debunk misconceptions at 13th Annual Summit

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It's been proven that banks earn significant profits through investments in women, often in less than two years.

The Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA) today unveiled a groundbreaking new study that reveals four common misconceptions bank leaders have about serving female customers. GBA is discussing the study and other themes related to scaling women’s wealth creation at its 13th Annual Summit, held Sept. 18 and 19 at the headquarters of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington.

The $20 trillion female economy is increasingly an engine of economic growth, yet it remains underserved by financial institutions globally. In an effort to better understand how bankers view the Women’s Market, GBA commissioned a report, supported by McKinsey & Company, to explore the choices bankers make around growth strategies and the thought processes that drive those decisions. 30 senior bankers from around the world were interviewed as part of the study, and from those conversations, four commonly believed myths about the female economy emerged:

Myth 1: Male and female customers are the same.
Myth 2: All banks need is “feminized” products.
Myth 3: There is no business case for serving women.
Myth 4: There is no data on gender.

The data that dispels these misconceptions, presented in the report, underscores the tremendous untapped potential that economically empowering women represents for financial institutions. There is an estimated credit shortfall of $300 billion to women-owned small and medium enterprises (IFC, McKinsey). Seventeen percent of women worldwide do not have a bank account, and 25 percent of women are unable get a loan (CTI). At a time when banks are growing at just 3 percent annually in their core businesses, the report argues it is time to truly focus on this multi-trillion dollar opportunity.

“It's been proven that banks earn significant profits through investments in women, often in less than two years,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno.

“This study not only helps paint a clearer picture of the barriers bank leaders grapple with when considering targeting new segments, like the Women's Market – it also makes the business case by looking at banks with programs that have successfully added value to women,” said GBA Chief Executive Officer Inez Murray. “We are pleased to be able to share these fresh insights into how banks can more effectively serve the Women’s Market at the Summit.”

GBA’s flagship members-only event, the Annual Summit is the only banking conference of its kind – focusing exclusively on the power of the Women’s Market. The conference’s aim is to deepen the know-how and sharing of best practices among GBA banks about working with the Women’s Market, so that full financial inclusion for women can be achieved. This year’s Summit, hosted by the IDB and Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), is the largest to date, with more than 30 banks from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America attending.

Read the full report here.

About the Global Banking Alliance for Women

The Global Banking Alliance for Women is a consortium of financial institutions driving women’s wealth creation. Our 41 member institutions work in more than 135 countries to build innovative, comprehensive programs that deliver women entrepreneurs the tools – access to capital, information, education and markets – they need to succeed. Membership in the Alliance provides our member institutions with a global clearinghouse for best practices and a unique platform for peer learning, giving them the resources they in turn need to serve their women customers well. To learn more, read the new report and access our membership application, visit

About the Inter-American Development Bank

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Bank Group, supports economic growth and poverty reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) through encouraging increased private sector development. A core MIF mission is to act as a development laboratory — experimenting, pioneering, and taking risks in order to build and support successful micro and SME business models. The MIF’s Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEempower) initiative aims to support women in realizing their full economic potential by promoting and facilitating equitable access to financial services, markets and skills, and basic services.

The IDB’s Structured and Corporate Finance Department (SCF) leads operations for capital markets development, trade finance and financial intermediaries, which include primarily banks and investment funds as well as for large infrastructure projects, companies, and mixed capital entities in a broad range of economic sectors. Through its beyondBanking strategy, SCF’s Financial Markets Division partners with banks and other financial intermediaries to achieve breakthrough financial results with high development impact.

To provide incentives to banks and other financial intermediaries to test innovative, inclusive lending models that support the growth of women’s micro, small, and medium-sized businesses or enterprises (MSMEs), the IDB launched in 2012 the women entrepreneurshipBanking (weB) program, a joint effort between the IDB’s SCF and MIF. To date, the IDB has approved over $110 million in both loans and technical assistance for 11 banks in LAC as part of this initiative.

For more information visit

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