IDLC Finance - Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: A Partnership Beyond Financing
IDLC Finance Limited, a founding member of the SME Finance Forum, was established in Bangladesh in 1985 as the country’s first-ever leasing company, with equity investment from IFC, the Government of Bangladesh and other investors. Since 2009, IDLC has been growing rapidly and its SME lending portfolio has been one of the major drivers of its growth.
Within SME lending, IDLC has become one of the market leaders in the women entrepreneur segment with a reputation for being women friendly. In recognition of its achievements, IDLC was awarded ‘Most Women Friendly Finance Company of the Year’ in 2014 by Bangladesh Bank (Central Bank) and SME Foundation (Government Organization on SME development). To fully tap into the nascent women’s financing market, IDLC, in collaboration with IFC, embarked on a journey to create a comprehensive solution for women entrepreneurs. The goal was to identify key traits that could help foster a women entrepreneur friendly business ecosystem.
Along the way, they reached the conclusion that women entrepreneurs want more than a banker or financier; they want a partner in business, opportunities for networking and to build long-term relationships with their financial institutions through mutual trust.
This is how IDLC’s financial product for women entrepreneurs, Purnota, meaning fulfillment, in Bengali, came into being. Purnota is a holistic solution for women owned businesses and includes both financial and non-financial services. Since its launching, Purnota loan portfolio has grown from US $28 Million to US $39 Million, with a client base of about 1600. Its portfolio quality is one of the best amongst IDLC’s business segments, with a Non-Performing Loan ratio of only 0.64%.
IDLC Purnota, which officially launched in June 2015, has the following comprehensive offerings for women entrepreneurs:
- Purnota Loan and Deposit Schemes offering preferential rates for women owned businesses;
- Capacity Development Workshops, in collaboration with SME Foundation, on topics such as product marketing, basic accounting for cash flow management, etc.;
- Business Facilitation Center that assists women entrepreneurs with obtaining various regulatory documents, tax, VAT and business licenses;
- Comprehensive Insurance Coverage for women in partnership with Green Delta Insurance Company, a leading insurance provider in Bangladesh;
- Dedicated Hotline for women entrepreneurs to get assistance on a wide range of business problems;
- IDLC Advantage Card for women entrepreneurs to get discounts with participating vendors;
- Purnota Club, a community for women entrepreneurs to share their skills, ideas and experiences.
IDLC also started the first yearly Purnota Fair in March 2016 inviting women entrepreneurs to exhibit their products. This year, IDLC expanded the Purnota fair to include networking sessions for the attendees. The sessions were conducted by reputed women entrepreneurs of Bangladesh. In addition to the Purnota Fair, IDLC is proactively engaged in helping clients showcase their products through participation in various SME and women entrepreneur focused events across the nation.
IDLC’s Head of SME, Ahmed Rashid Joy notes, “Purnota is a result of our belief in the power of women and their contribution to the economy. We see this niche group as a thriving segment for investment and our continued focus is a reflection of our unwavering commitment to empowering women. Women have and will always continue to play a major role in the development of any economy, and IDLC is determined to be a partner in this growth.”