Women-Owned SMEs: A Business Opportunity for Financial Institutions

A Market and credit gap assessment and IFC's portfolio gender baseline

This report seeks to estimate the global and regional size of the women-owned small and medium enterprise (SME) market for financial services operating in the formal sector. It looks at the financing gap they face, as well as common financial and non-financial barriers faced by women entrepreneurs. The report also provides an estimate of the International Finance Corporation's (IFC's) global reach to formal women-owned SMEs. The report presents the findings of this study, which include:

  • There are roughly 9.34 million women-owned SMEs globally in over 140 assessed countries;
  • The credit gap for formal women-owned SMEs across all regions is roughly USD 287 billion, which is 30% of the total credit gap for SMEs;
  • Most of the financial and non-financial barriers affecting women-owned SMEs occur at the startup stage of the business life cycle;
  • The most significant barriers tend to be non-financial in nature, influencing the degree to which women-owned SMEs can formally access financial products and services and realize the growth potential of their enterprises.