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The OPIC Blog

Did you know: Women own more than 30 percent of small businesses in the developing world

Microfinance, Lebanon, Global Communities, OPIC, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, female entrepreneurs, women, developing world, emerging markets, post-conflict region, political stability, public diplomacy
This shop owner in Lebanon used a loan from OPIC-partner
Global Communities Vitas s.a.l. to purchase supplies for her shop.

 

In the developing world, women own more than 30 percent of all smaller businesses1. Despite this strong contribution to their local economies, women are often particularly challenged to access the financing needed to expand and hire more workers. In Lebanon, for example, only three percent of bank loans go to female entrepreneurs. One of the ways OPIC reaches underserved populations is by working with partners like the nonprofit Global Communities that works closely with local communities throughout much of the developing world to provide financing and other support to help improve the lives of the most vulnerable people.

In 2007 OPIC signed a loan guaranty facility in Lebanon with Silver Spring, Maryland-based Global Communities, to encourage lending during a period of economic instability following the war in 2006. Throughout the life of the guaranty facility, Vitas s.a.l., Global Communities’ microfinance institution in Lebanon, made over 36,000 loans worth almost $70 million dollars to underserved entrepreneurs and households.

The average loan size was less than $2,000 and the default rate was less than one percent, underscoring both how small amounts can make a big difference in people’s lives, and how even the lowest income people with no track record of borrowing, can be good credit risks. Due to the successful track record of Global Communities Vitas s.a.l., Global Communities and OPIC signed a second facility in 2014 to continue to support the access to credit and economic growth and stability in the region.

By supporting economic development in regions affected by conflict, OPIC helps to foster the sort of economic growth and stability that can help lead to political stability. Today about one-third of OPIC’s portfolio is in conflict affected regions.

 


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