Paper presented at the 2011 Global Microcredit Summit, November 14-17, 2011, Valladolid, Spain
This paper highlights the need for women‘s economic participation especially in the context of emerging economies and the role microfinance can play in helping women achieve their economic potential. It analyzes challenges that MFIs face in targeting and retaining women clients in the context of increased MFI commercialization.
The paper undertakes a comparative study of the Kashf Microfinance Bank in Pakistan and CARD in Philippines. It presents lessons learned and a practical guide on how MFIs can continue to serve women clients well even when they choose to become for-profit entities. Guidelines include:
Understanding that women‘s economic participation is a multi layered and complex issue and needs to be contextualized to different societies;
Investing time and effort in getting to know what women clients want;
Knowing that hybrid and innovative solutions can often work in strengthening the mission and vision of retaining female clients, while also ensuring profitability;
Building buy in at the board level to retain women clients and developing ownership structures that can build long term commitment to women's access;
Demonstrating a model that includes women clients and is scalable, replicable, and profitable.