4th CDB President’s chat to focus on access to finance for women-led businesses

Practical measures for increasing access to finance for women-led enterprises will be defined and highlighted in the 4th edition of the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) President’s Chat, scheduled for June 16, 2023, at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in Morne Fortune, St. Lucia.

An all-female panel of high-level decision-makers from regional and international financial institutions will join the Bank’s President, Dr Hyginus “Gene” Leon for the solution-oriented discussion.

Panelists confirmed to participate include Ms. Karyl Akilian, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Financial Alliance for Women, USA, Mrs. Sandra Reifer-Wallerson, Senior Manager Retail, Republic Bank Barbados and Ms. Ashley Outten, Financial Controller, Bahamas Development Bank. Ms. Sunita Daniel, Chief Executive Officer, Export Saint Lucia will serve as moderator.

The dialogue comes against the backdrop of increasing efforts to address factors limiting access to resources which have opened a global credit gap of USD287 for women-owned Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The IFC has reported that women are constrained by factors such as lack of collateral, inadequate financial infrastructure, the high cost of funding, and non-financial barriers such as harmful gender norms and limited access to business information and networks.

“The research, and other evidence, indicates that women owned MSMEs are a significant driver of both economic growth and poverty reduction, but women face more constraints than men particularly when it comes to accessing finance and other resources for support to start a business or grow an existing enterprise,” President Leon said.

“Our objective, with this discussion, is to demonstrate how to feasibly and practically provide access to finance for women-owned or led businesses on a sustainable basis, and to identify existing scalable solutions for the region,” he added.

Participants will share, from their personal and institutional experience, approaches and methodologies that have garnered success in the Caribbean and other Regions. The dialogue will also explore how developments in the international finance arena can be applied in the regional context.

The hybrid event will be streamed live on CDB’s social media platforms and broadcast regionally on UWI TV.

While the discussion will be of interest to a broad audience, the topic is particularly pertinent to policy and decision makers and representatives from public and private financial institutions, who will benefit from guidance on how to improve the enabling environment.

Another important target group are current and potential female entrepreneurs who will get information on how to access finance for businesses at various stages and sizes. Representatives of Chambers of Commerce, and similar umbrella groups, gender-focused entities, and academic institutions are also encouraged to tune in.


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