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Women's World Banking Brings Credit To The Third World
Forbes: Women's World Banking (WWB), a global network of 40 microfinance institutions and banks in 28 developing countries is moving into a broad array of products and services for women, including savings, insurance and financial education. Currently WWB is moving away from the traditional microfinance model of loans toward sponsoring research on the use of mobile phone technology and ATMs as ways to provide low-income women with banking services.
" Women's World Banking (WWB), is a global network of 40 microfinance institutions and banks in 28 developing countries. Committed to the "double bottom line" of financial returns and social progress, WWB offers credit, insurance and savings products that enable low-income women to build assets, guard against risk and provider better opportunities for their children. In the process, WWB enables its partners in microfinance to evolve from donor-dependent charities into self-sustaining financial institutions. 'We know the poor can be economically savvy about juggling what little they have,' Iskenderian noted during a presentation at the recent 14th Annual Wharton Leadership Conference, whose theme was "Leading in a Recovering (and Even Rebounding) Economy." 'When someone trusts low-income women with capital, often for the first time, they can become agents of their own change.'
In 2008 Women's World Banking released a widely cited survey showing that if microfinance groups did not specifically target women, the percentage of female clients dropped sharply as the microfinance institutions evolved from donor-funded charities to regulated financial institutions. The phenomenon is called 'mission drift,' and it occurs when organizations shift their focus toward higher-income (and supposedly less risky) clientele and away from low-income customers, which in many developing countries means women. Iskenderian wants everyone to recognize the damage, unintended or not, caused by mission drift. Recently a WWB publication uncovered another effect that hurts women: As organizations shift their focus to for-profit services, a marked decline occurs in the number of female staff members who might better understand the needs of women entrepreneurs.
To illustrate this aspect of mission drift, WWB developed a tool called the Organizational Gender Assessment, which was launched with a large microfinance institution in Bangladesh called ASA. The OGA uncovered policies that clearly affected mothers employed at ASA, such as a requirement that staff members at all branch offices work late into the night managing loan recovery and overdue payments."