Crossing the Billion dollar mark in funding for Female Entrepreneurs
Venture funding has a gender inequality problem: female founders get only 2.2% of venture capital dollars in 2018. But there is a case for optimism. Kiva, the non-profit which facilitates microloans to underserved communities, has bucked the trend. Today marks the milestone for Kiva having deployed more than $1 billion in microloans to 2.7 million female entrepreneurs across 94 countries.
Access to finance is a huge challenge for female entrepreneurs across the world. Two-thirds of the world’s unbanked populations are women—that makes for one billion women who do not have access to credit or financing options. Kiva provides a platform for individuals and organizations to lend to underserved communities. “Financial inclusion is critical to gender equality, which is why more than 80% of Kiva loans are provided to women around the world,” says Neville Crawley, Chief Executive Officer of Kiva.
Studies of microfinance have shown that women are more reliable microfinance clients as they repay more timely and tend to default less. Moreover, women also have a proven track record of investing capital back into their families and communities. “Our millions of lenders fund women’s loans almost twice as fast as loans to men—on average, loans to women fund in 6.5 days, whereas loans to men fund in 12,” says Goldie Chow, Director of Impact at Kiva. Part of the reasons may be due to the business case of investing in women, but it is also about the stories.
“Sometimes the numbers hide the heart of what this looks like: we often hear of women borrowers paying for school loans for the children of others, we see lifelong mentorship and friendships form from women lending groups, and we see a real intent and action from our field partners in creating entirely new programs and products for women entrepreneurs at scale,” continues Chow.
Microloans are often the beginning of a longer empowerment journey to support female entrepreneurs, who face many barriers. “Kiva views the role of microloans as a stepping stone toward not only larger loans, but also toward improved financial literacy, business acumen, community links, and reputation—all things that very directly improve the ability of our women borrowers to secure further capital,” says Chow. To address specific barriers to women, Kiva has partnered with other organizations such as Microfund for Women, BRAC Sierra Leone, and CAMFED, to provide ongoing and field support.
A billion dollars may be a small drop in the ocean of funding for entrepreneurs, but it has certainly made a dent and called to attention the unequal access to funding between women and men…Read more…
Source: insert source here: Forbes