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Unlocking Growth: The WE Finance Code Empowers Women-led SMEs

14 February 2024
8 : 00
9 : 30
Unlocking Growth: The WE Finance Code Empowers Women-led SMEs
Joint Event between SME Finance Forum, Women’s World Banking and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative.

In October 2023, the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) launched the WE Finance Code (or simply, the Code), a global framework designed to drive commitment, leadership, and innovation to close the gender financing gaps and enable women to succeed as entrepreneurs. This session will introduce financial service providers that are members of Women’s World Banking and the SME Finance Forum to the WE Finance Code and share how the Code can be used to grow financing for women entrepreneurs.

Financial service providers, regulators, development banks, and other financial ecosystem players can participate in the Code in a growing number of pilot countries.  In this session, we will share an overview of the Code and explain how FSPs can participate in the initiative and what this means for them. The event will also feature practical perspectives from the financial sector, along with comments from implementation, policymaking, and ecosystem participants.

The Code has already been launched in the Dominican Republic and Indonesia, and the Netherlands has launched “Code-V” an associated initiative with over 60 signatories. Moreover, 26 countries are expected to launch their WE Finance Codes in the coming months, many around International Women’s Day in March. At the global level, leaders of six multilateral development banks signed a joint statement endorsing the Code, and Standard Chartered, one of the world’s leading financial institutions, the Financial Alliance for Women, Women’s World Banking and the World Savings & Retail Bank Institute have become signatories, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has joined, We-Fi as a supporter of the Code.

The following questions will be addressed in the webinar:

  • What is the Code and how does it aim to close financing gaps for women entrepreneurs?
  • How can FSPs participate in the Code?
  • Why should FSPs commit to the Code? What are potential benefits for FSPs?
  • What are potential learning opportunities for FSPs?

Chantal Korteweg, Director Inclusive Banking at ABN AMRO.

Trained as a lawyer, Chantal feels strongly about social justice. She is a strategic executor and contributes to making our world a better, inclusive and more sustainable place. She is a proud mother of a son and daughter and has become an all-round professional. She started her career as an attorney-at-law, and then worked for FMO, the Dutch Development bank for 13 years in different roles as development banker and later as Director for Strategy and Stakeholders and ExCo member responsible for different teams and running change programs. She grew up in England and the Netherlands, which sparked her love for travel, culture and different perspectives. She was privileged to work on many investments and transformational initiatives in emerging markets. During the past 10 years she passionately worked on female leadership and gender finance. She initiated the Fempower Your Growth partnership, a Dutch Financial Sector initiative, connecting the worlds of bankers and female entrepreneurs. She is an advisory board member at NABC (Netherlands Africa Business Council) and AIF (Amsterdam Institute of Finance). Currently, she works as Director Inclusive Banking at ABN AMRO to make banking products and services more inclusive and accessible for women and other groups facing barriers. In addition, she is a member of ABN AMRO’s ethical committee. In 2022 Chantal was nominated as 1 of the 50 Dutch female leaders in sustainable finance and as 1 of the 30 Dutch inclusive leaders (Sprout). In 2023 Chantal is the women’s representative of the Netherlands and delivered a speech in the UN General Assembly.

Dalma Hernández, Asociación de Bancos Múltiples de la República Dominicana, Inc. (ABA), Manager of Social Banking and Private Inter-Institutional Relations.

Bachelor's degree in Economics from the Pontifical Catholic Mother and Teacher University (PUCMM). She holds a Master's degree in Applied Economics from the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, China. With over 10 years of experience in economics and social-economic development. Currently, she serves as the Coordinator of Economic Studies at the Association of Multiple Banks of the Dominican Republic, INC. (ABA), where she also holds the position of Manager of Social Banking and Private Inter-Institutional Relations.


Marina Dimova, Global Head of Financial Industry & Network Advocacy Woman World Banking.

Marina leads the efforts to support Network Members and financial services providers across the industry to adopt best practices, share know-how and take tangible actions to advance women’s financial inclusion. In her previous position as Managing Director of Design & Innovation, she focused on identifying and designing innovative financial solutions for women and girls. Marina is a designer with over 16 years of experience developing, implementing and scaling innovative solutions to social problems. Previously, Marina was a Vice President at ideas42 and Associate Research Director at Ikatu International. She has also worked on agricultural value chains and private sector development at the World Bank, and in finance and healthcare consulting. Marina holds an MPA in International Development from Harvard Kennedy School, and a B.A. in Economics and Government from Franklin & Marshall College.


Wendy Teleki, Head, We-Fi Secretariat in the World Bank Group.

Wendy is responsible for supporting the We-Fi Governing Committee in the allocation and supervision of We-Fi funding as well as communications, advocacy, and learning focused on strengthening opportunities for women entrepreneurs in collaboration with the GC, Implementing Partners and other stakeholders.  Ms. Teleki joined We-Fi in May 2019.  Prior to that, Ms. Teleki worked with the International Finance Corporation leading numerous activities and initiatives focused on small and medium enterprise development in emerging markets around the world.   This included several blended finance, investment and advisory programs, including IFC’s We-Fi program and the Global SME Finance Initiative.  Wendy has an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of Business and an MA in International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.


Hosted by 

Qamar Saleem, CEO, SME Finance Forum

Prior to this role, Qamar was the Manager Financial Institutions Group Advisory Services for Asia and Pacific driving leading a large team across 20 countries aimed at providing integrated investment/advisory client solutions across mainly MSME, Gender, Climate, Digital, Housing, Trade, and Supply Chain Finance. Qamar has been with IFC since 2012 and served in his previous roles as global technical lead for SME and Supply Chain Finance as well as regional SME Banking lead for EMENA.  Qamar has 30+ years of global financial services experience having worked across 60+ countries internationally managing large business lines while leading multi-cultural and cross-functional teams. He is a recognized thought leader, featured speaker, and an industry mentor in SME Finance. Prior to joining IFC, Qamar was associated with international organizations like HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank as well as large regional banks while serving in several emerging markets where he also led SME Banking and Commercial Banking Divisions.  Qamar holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and carries several certifications in the areas of Strategy, Climate Finance, Digital Banking, Business Transformation, Social Impact, MSME Banking, Team Leadership, Supply Chain Finance, Credit, Risk, Trade, Sales Effectiveness, Transaction Banking and Project Implementation. 


The event will be recorded to serve as a resource for interested parties unable to attend.

More About

The SME Finance Forum was established by the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) in 2012 as a knowledge center for data, research, and best practice in promoting SME finance. The Forum works to scaling finance, creating livelihood, achieving impact – powering SMEs and economies. It operates a global membership network of +240 members that brings together financial institutions, technology companies, and development finance institutions to share knowledge, spur innovation, and promote the growth of SMEs.

Women’s World Banking designs and invests in financial solutions, institutions, and policy environments in emerging markets to create greater economic stability and prosperity for women, their families, and their communities. With a Global Network of 74 partners in 34 countries serving more than 178 million women clients, Women’s World Banking drives impact through its scalable, market-driven solutions; gender lens private equity fund; and leadership and diversity programs.

Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is a financial intermediary fund housed in the World Bank. Launched in 2017 with contributions from 14 donor governments totaling over $360 million, We-Fi works with six multilateral development banks – ADB, AfDB, EBRD, IsDB, IDB, and WBG as Implementing Partners. Its objective is to support women-led small and medium enterprises (WSMEs) in developing countries by enhancing their access to finance, markets, and skills. Additionally, We-Fi works towards facilitating legal and policy reforms that create an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs to thrive. As of 2023, We-Fi has helped get more than $3 billion in financing into the hands of women-led businesses, reaching over 150,000 WSMEs in 67 developing countries with financing and non-financial services. Notably, each donor dollar invested in We-Fi crowds in 10 times in co-funding from the public and private sectors.

Financial InclusionGender Finance