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Westpac empowering women in business

19 February 2015

Francisca Acuna Sanhueza

Banco Estado Chile

Soledad Ovando Green

Banco Estado Chile

Guido Cordero

Banco Pichincha Ecuador

Marianne Nyangi

Chase Bank Kenya

Adaeze Ume

Diamond Bank Nigeria

Aishah Ahmad

Diamond Bank Nigeria

Serpil Cetincift

EBRD

Inez Murray

GBA for Women

Taqueer Mazhar

HBL Pakistan

Syed Mujtaba Navqi

HBL Pakistan

Maria Teresa Villanueva

IDB

Tetsuro Narita

IDB

Gema Sacristan

IDB

Jessica Schnabel

IFC

Yukun Wu

IFC

Esther Mututta Ssenoga

Postbank Uganda

Monica Marquez Pena

Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Katia Addison

Westpac New Zealand

Cat Feaunati

Westpac New Zealand

Sharon Thompson

Westpac New Zealand

Jo Brothers

Westpac New Zealand

Eseta Nadakuitavuki

Westpac Pacific Banking, Fiji

Anna Gincherman

Women’s World Banking

GBA Study Tour

‘What a fascinating group’ and ‘I didn’t know we had that many contacts all over the world’ - these were the comments left by more than one person at the sight of the delegate and guest nametags laid out on the registration desk in the foyer of Westpac’s Kent Street corporate offices.

The tags were for attendees at the recent Global Banking Alliance (GBA) for Women’s Study Tour (some of whom are pictured with Westpac Director Women's Markets Larke Riemer, second from right). It certainly read like a who’s who of banking diversity.

All the Study Tour attendees were here for one common purpose: to understand the banking and finance needs of women and serve them appropriately. Like any other critical customer base, women's markets contains multiple segments and sub-segments. High net worth women, large, small and medium enterprise businesswomen, up-and-coming career women, and women raising families all have distinct life-cycle needs.

A founding member institution of the GBA for Women, Westpac is the global benchmark for women’s financial empowerment. The 2015 Study Tour is the seventh to be held by the bank for member institutions interested in developing the strategies needed to enhance women’s access to finance.

“There are a lot of people who talk about empowering women. It can often feel very… How will I put it? Academic,” says Inez Murray, circumspectly. Inez is the CEO of the GBA for Women and what she likes about Westpac’s Women’s Markets is “it isn’t talk, it does”.

“The actual doing is rare,” she admits, noting that’s why so many people find it easier to ‘talk’ about empowerment.

Inez has been CEO of the GBA since November 2012.

Larke Riemer, Director of Westpac Women’s Markets and GBA board chair, says Inez has her own reputation, as a “doer”.

“Inez,” says Larke, “recently orchestrated the partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Data2X to expand the collection and use of financial data on women in economies around the world. Increasing access to and use of sex-disaggregated data supports the business case for serving women and for banks to target women as a market.”

In relation to the GBA’s role in the data collection initiative, Inez notes: "What is not measured does not get done. Banks in the GBA offer women entrepreneurs training and networking opportunities as well as finance, and they do so profitability. By sharing that information, we will motivate other banks to take on this incredible business opportunity and close the gender gap in access to finance worldwide."

Inez came to the GBA following a 17-year career with Women’s World Banking. The world’s largest network of microfinance institutions, WWB reaches more than 26 million low-income people, the vast majority of them women, with quality financial services.

The GBA is now a 41-member institution working in 135 countries.

Speaking with member delegates, many of who are involved in the economies of developing and third world nations, and where cultural differences exist that can create obstacles for the financial empowerment of women; it was easy to see why the Westpac experience would require modifications. The importance of mobile (particularly phone based) banking, online education and information and contact points, all of which afford gender neutral ways through the system, stimulated discussion.

A number of the delegates also spoke about moving from lucrative corporate careers in merchant and investment banking to work in an area more aligned with their own values around women and access to finance. They’d made their dollars. Now they wanted to influence and develop processes that would support other women to succeed for the wider benefit of society.

(GBA Study Tour: Tetsuro Narita, Inez Murray, Soledad Ovando Green, Larke Riemer, Francisca Acuna Sanhueza, Gema Sacristan, Guido Cordero, Maria Teresa Villanueva.)

 GBA study tour Westpac

 

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