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Gender equality 08 Mar 2016

Equal opportunities for women is the key to world economic development

International Women’s Day shines a spotlight on the complicated work, family and personal situation of many women throughout the world, particularly in developing economies. The BBVA Microfinance Foundation is taking steps to support the most vulnerable female population by funding their businesses and giving advice. However, in spite of their potential, female entrepreneurship continues to be an unresolved issue all over the world.

61% of the entrepreneurs supported by the BBVA Foundation with productive credits are women. This institution, specialized in promoting economic and social development through productive and responsible financing in Latin America, is well aware of the importance of women’s role in the economy and in reducing poverty. 46% of the women entrepreneurs it supports are in a situation of vulnerability and at risk of sliding back into poverty, while 40% are poor (of these, 30% are in a situation of extreme poverty). The Foundation gives them the credit financing most suited to their needs and skills, in addition to providing them with personalized advice.

However, in spite of the difficulties they face, these women make better progress than men: their income increases on average 19.9% compared to 11.4% for men, and their assets grow by 31.8% year-on-year as opposed to 27.4% for men. Although they make 25% less from their businesses than men, women entrepreneurs set aside 35% more for savings, and their income has a much greater impact on the socio-economic conditions in the household. This is the case in Latin America, where one third of women are dependent on other people, generally men, for their subsistence.

Women who are given the opportunity to generate their own income contribute to the productivity of their communities and countries. The means of doing so often include the options of self-employment or setting up their own businesses, but there are still a minority of women entrepreneurs. “Currently, only 30% of the world’s businesses are started and run by women, and they are also concentrated in micro and small businesses”, says Giovanni di Plácido, director of Analysis and Research at the BBVA Microfinance Foundation.

Women all over the world have fewer opportunities than men to generate economic and financial development, and this inequality affects all economies on a global scale. If they were guaranteed their rights and were offered the same opportunities, it would bring forward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. This is because female entrepreneurship is always a driver of wealth, particularly in disadvantaged countries.

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