Investing in Women: New Evidence for the Business Case
Over the last two decades, the gap between male and female employment rates has closed by only 0.6 percentage points. The financing gap for women entrepreneurs remains at an estimated $285 billion. Inequities between men and women have been exacerbated by the lingering e¯ects of the global financial crisis. Solving these and other challenges will require more than private sector support—it will require private sector leadership.
For sixty years, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has worked with the private sector to develop solutions that result in social and business impact, including gender- smart solutions. As of Financial Year 2016, our Banking on Women program includes over $1.4 billion dollars in dedicated investment. Our advisory engagements have defined and implemented best practice in closing gaps between men and women in more than 40 countries around the world.
This report brings together insights from across IFC’s global portfolio. It features nine detailed case studies that demonstrate how IFC clients and partners have achieved results by integrating women and men more equally as leaders, employees, entrepreneurs, and customers. It shows how a group of women entrepreneurs from India helped a solar lighting company expand sales by 30 percent, how a bank in the Dominican Republic produced an internal rate of return of 35 percent by designing financial services for women customers, and how a coalition of more than 50 companies in Papua New Guinea helped address gender-based violence that had been adding 3 percent to 9 percent to payroll costs per year.
Not only is there a clear social need to close gaps between men and women in the private sector, but there is also a strong business case for doing so. Gender-smart solutions can deliver benefits ranging from a better talent pipeline to a positive investment climate that creates markets for all. This report shows that closing gaps between men and women in the private sector leads to business benefits and better development outcomes alike. They also show that the business case delivers results across geographies, industries, and sectors. We invite our clients and partners to seize this opportunity and to join us in developing and scaling the next generation of gender-smart solutions for the private sector.