A member of the World Bank Group will support the Commercial Bank, to develop more specially-designed products and services for women, as part of a move to help boost access to finance for women, especially those who own small and medium sized businesses (SMEs).
The advisory assistance to the Bank is part a Banking on Women (BOW) program, supported by the government of Australia, by a highly entrepreneurial institution, owning nearly a quarter of the micro, small and medium sized enterprises in the country.
Most are micro-sized enterprises, with the number of women owned business falling drastically as the business size increases. While over 80 percent of women have an account at a financial institution, only 17 percent have borrowed money.
With a longstanding partnership since 2003, the latest IFC-ComBank engagement is aimed at help narrowing the financing gap in the country. With around one million SMEs – more than 14 percent of which are women-owned – small businesses are a significant engine of job creation in Sri Lanka, providing a livelihood for nearly 2.25million people and contributing to 52 percent of the country’s GDP. However, over 30 percent of SMEs have unmet financing needs, with a financing gap estimated atUS$13.7 billion.
The ComBank has identified the significant contribution made by female entrepreneurs to the economy of the country and has led many initiatives to improve their access to finance. Is now looking forward to this partnership further enhancing the value propositions extended to female led businesses, broadening their horizons instead of limiting their potential.