Money to Grow

Joanne Thomas Yaccato
President and Founder

As a result of my work in Africa with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, I can tell you African women consumers share the same complaints of their sisters around the globe—companies don’t take them as seriously as men. Case in point:

Muni Shonibare owns a successful, 150-employee furniture company in West Africa with considerable growth potential. Her clients include Shell, Texaco, the Abuja Hilton, and others. However, bankers in Lagos would not finance a woman-owned business with ambitious expansion plans. Enter Access Bank.

Access Bank is a member of the Gender Entre-preneurship Markets (GEM) program. GEM is an IFC-initiated program specifically designed to help businesswomen overcome gender barriers and grant them access to much-needed capital by working with local banks. With support from GEM, Access Bank gave her an $800,000 loan for her expansion plans.

Now that they have begun to take women seriously, Access Bank is being rewarded with customer loyalty and a referral network previously unimagined. Other African countries are now seeing the light in terms of new market opportunities and through GEM, banks in South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya are lining up.

View the entire report (pdf 3.8MB)

Back to In the News