Investing in the world’s women by investing in development
Earlier this month, OPIC committed $5 million in financing to support microfinance lending in Myanmar, with a focus on the low-income female entrepreneurs who are often particularly challenged to access financing to start or grow a business. The project was one of several OPIC-supported projects developed with women in mind.
Access to finance is a universal challenge across the developing world for men and women who often cannot obtain loans to start or grow a business, or simply maintain the basic cash flow needed to run a household and feed a family. Women, however, are particularly challenged to access basic banking services like savings accounts, mortgages or small business loans. This latest project to support microfinance lending is one of several OPIC has supported to increase access to finance to the world’s women.
Like limited access to finance, many of the biggest challenges facing emerging markets are borne disproportionately by women. Women represent about two-thirds of the world’s illiterate, and while women make up the majority of the agricultural labor force in many developing countries, they are often unable to manage or own the land on which they work. These are all disparities that limit not just the lives of women, but also the potential of the developing world make use of all its human capital to advance and thrive.
By supporting investment in development OPIC supports the world’s women in a variety of ways:
- OPIC supports multiple projects that provide financing and training to smallholder farmers so they can grow more food, reach more markets and earn more income.
- Empowering female entrepreneurs OPIC’s support of microfinance lending has helped female entrepreneurs start and grow businesses and hire employees.
- Supporting job creation for women Across all the projects OPIC supports, one of the most significant impacts is job creation. The projects OPIC committed to support last year alone are projected to create 10,000 host country jobs.
- Expanding access to healthcare OPIC supports multiple healthcare projects, covering both the construction and expansion of major hospitals and support for smaller health clinics that are a vital source of prenatal and maternal healthcare in much of Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Expanding access to affordable housing OPIC’s longstanding partnership with Habitat for Humanity’s Microbuild Fund has provided more than 44,000 home loans to individual borrowers – more than half of them women -- from Azerbaijan to Cambodia.
- Helping introduce technology to make cooking safer OPIC financing is helping Envirofit International introduce clean cookstoves throughout the developing world, to replace open fire stoves, which are a major source of indoor air pollution and respiratory illness.
- Humanitarian support around the world. OPIC political risk insurance supports the work of the International Rescue Committee responding to humanitarian crises in more than 20 countries.