The first-ever global finance facility dedicated to women-owned SMEs, the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility aims to raise up to $600 million in capital through investments from public and private co-investors and will work with local banks to spur lending to women-owned enterprises. A partnership between Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women initiative and the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, the fund will be seeded with anchor investments of $32 million from the Goldman Sachs Foundation and $100 million from IFC. In addition, an $18 million anchor donation from the foundation — $11 million of which will go to IFC — will provide capacity-building support to address barriers that banks face in deploying capital in developing countries and that women entrepreneurs face in accessing it.
IFC estimates that about 70 percent of women-owned SMEs in developing countries are unserved or underserved by financial institutions, while new research by Goldman Sachs shows that increasing women's access to capital can boost per capita income in developing and emerging markets.
"There is a credit gap," Dina Powell, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, told the Financial Times. "Local banks at times don't have [trained] loan officers. But women are also not applying for the capital because they worry about not having the collateral or the rates are prohibitive."
"Through the experiences of 10,000 Women graduates, we have seen, firsthand, that investing in women leads to economic growth and job creation, but there is clearly more that can be done to unlock the potential of women-owned businesses," said Lloyd C. Blankfein, CEO and chair of Goldman Sachs. "By partnering with IFC, we will address one of the biggest obstacles to growth for women-owned small and medium-sized businesses — access to capital."