More than one billion women around the world do not have access to formal financial services, such as savings accounts or loans from financial institutions. Forced to make financial transactions primarily through informal markets, these women pay higher costs for low-quality services, which hinders financial security and opportunity and global economic growth.
More than 80% of Kiva loans go to women, providing a pipeline of capital to empower women globally. Kiva loans and greater access to capital enable women to start new businesses, grow existing businesses, and invest in education for themselves and their children. Investing in women’s economic empowerment can boost country-level GDP and is vital for the economic development of our borrowers’ communities, countries, and regions.
Kiva has incorporated gender into many layers of our partner assessment and monitoring process. Research has shown that providing microcredit alone is not enough to empower women: loan products must be designed for womens’ needs, and provided in ways that account for contextual factors such as agency in household financial decisions and gender-specific barriers to successful entrepreneurship. Kiva works with lending partners to use credit as part of more intensive entrepreneurship programs that include peer support and mentoring, business & skills training, and subsidized financing. Kiva’s investments prioritize gender-smart financial services and serve to strengthen and evolve the field of microfinance and gender-lens investing.
Scaling investment in gender-smart lending partners and directly in women entrepreneurs is the next step in building pathways to prosperity for women. Kiva Capital recently announced the launch of the Kiva Invest in Women Fund (K-IWF) to raise $100M in capital and reach 1M women with high quality financial services.