Have women achieved equality? Today, women certainly have many more opportunities than generations ago. But there is still an area where women’s participation is severely lacking. Globally, women face great challenges in working.
Women’s economic participation is critical to growing economies. In fact, the World Economic Forum predicts that if the global economic gender gap were narrowed, the world’s GDP could grow by $12 trillion by 2025. Yet, only 49 percent of women participate in the world’s labor force, as compared to 75 percent for men. Women are more likely than men to bear the responsibility of unpaid work at home, limiting their availability to join the workforce. They also make up the majority of informal workers – such as domestic workers, street vendors or seasonal laborers – that are unprotected by the government with wages paid under-the-table, if at all.
Even if a woman wanted to start her own business, she faces limitations in accessing financial services, like small loans or savings accounts. That is why, for over 30 years, FINCA has been improving the lives of women with the help of financial services. Our female clients access small loans to build their businesses, increase their incomes and save for the future. As their businesses grow, these FINCA clients create a ripple. They hire women as employees, creating jobs and boosting the local economy.
This International Women’s Day, FINCA celebrates these pathbreakers who not only find success as entrepreneurs but help other women in their community thrive.
Mama Kapu, Tanzania
Mama Kapu always dreamt of becoming a restauranteur in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She initially used FINCA loans to purchase a small plot of land to build her restaurant. As the business grew, so did her team. She was able to hire five female employees, most who relied on Mama Kapu’s business to feed, clothe and school their own children.
“When I got a job at Mama Kapu’s restaurant, I thanked God,” Amina, one of Mama Kapu’s employees says. “I am a widow and have two children to look after. Getting a job is so difficult.”
Noor Zia, Afghanistan
Like thousands of Afghans after the collapse of the Taliban regime, Noor Zia lost her job. After working in a beauty parlor in Peshawar, Noor migrated to the capital of Kabul in search of employment, with her husband, daughter, and four teenage sons in tow. She decided to use her limited savings to purchase cosmetics to start a beauty salon at home.
Noor began to receive FINCA loans to purchase inventory for her business. After several years of steady growth in her business and additional FINCA loans, she opened a beauty salon in the market and hired her first employee. Today, she is committed to helping other women in the community achieve their dreams and has trained over 70 women on beauty services.
Betty Nakintu, Uganda
Betty Nakintu is a woman with endless energy. Ask her about her nursery and primary school in Kampala, Uganda, and she beams with pride, happily showing the many buildings and facilities for her school of 750 kids. Thanks to FINCA loans, Betty was able to build her school.
Working from 6 am to 5 pm, Betty occasionally teaches classes but spends most of her day managing her 46 staff members and teachers, many of whom are women. She trains her teachers as well and takes pride in being in their supervisor.
Sunny, who has been teaching at the school for two years, appreciates Betty’s management of the school. “I like the facilities and environment,” she says. “Everyone is cooperative.”