April 2020 – August 2021. WOCCU is developing a Gender Lens Investment Methodology in Senegal that will elevate women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment worldwide.The financial backing for the project is provided by USAID INVEST, and USAID’s office of Gender Equity and Women’s Empowerment and will be deployed through innovative blended finance approaches.
These approaches will encompass:
• Promotion of gender smart investing.
• Expansion of financial services to women through innovative channels.
• Empowerment of women through workforce development opportunities and the strengthening of the enabling environment.
WOCCU to deliver: The World Council of Credit Unions will pilot a Gender Lens Investment methodology focusing on women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment for credit unions worldwide. The pilot will seek to integrate optimal financial systems to connect women with needed capital and will be tested in Senegal.Credit Unions are ideally positioned to deliver blended capital solutions because of their community focus. If successful, these blended capital solutions will increase investment in women-led businesses.
Method. WOCCU will conduct a survey to create a gender lens market analysis. The results of the survey will inform the creation of a “Gender Lens Accelerator Kit”; a tool that credit unions may adopt to better serve women entrepreneurs and women-led businesses. The Accelerator Kit is intended to increase women’s access to capital for greater gender equity, and positive economic returns.
As part of the program’s pilot phase, WOCCU and partner PAMECAS will test the methodology with four credit unions – known as ‘caisses populaires in French – in four different geographical regions in Senegal. The aim of this pilot phase will be to improve both the readiness of credit unions to unlock private financing for women-led businesses, and the available pool of credit. To achieve this, WOCCU and PAMECAS will refine the Accelerator Kit, and build capacity and uptake of program methodologies at the national and local levels.
WOCCU will then work with its Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) to lead both national and local counterparts through the implementation of these new methodologies.
The Pilot program will be completed in December 2021, and WOCCU will continue to disseminate the Gender Lens Investment Accelerator Kit for uptake by global credit union members and future economic development projects.