Women’s Entrepreneurship Day grew out of volunteer work that Wendy Diamond did with a microcredit organization in Honduras in the early 2010s. Wendy wanted to raise the profile of microcredit and other charitable causes that help women build a better life for themselves and their families. Thanks to Wendy and others, the United Nations and more than 100 countries celebrate Women’s Entrepreneurship Day each year on November 19. In 2021, the theme of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is #ChooseWOMEN.
As a founder of the global microfinance movement, FINCA has long understood the power of women entrepreneurs. For three decades we have provided female microentrepreneurs with the small loans they need to grow their businesses. These loans create tremendous benefits. With access to capital, our clients’ enterprises become more profitable. Our clients then invest the extra cash they earn in their families’ health and education. And some of our clients create jobs that spur broader economic development.
FINCA also invests in social enterprises designed to help poor women get ahead. We focus on partnering with innovators in the fields of financial technology, healthcare, and water, sanitation and hygiene. By doing so we seek to create a revolution as important as the microfinance revolution we helped launch. One of the innovative companies we’re supporting is Jefa.
Jefa is a female-led digital challenger bank specifically designed for women. Emma Sánchez Andrade Smith founded the company in 2020 and initially launched in Mexico. In the coming years, Emma plans for Jefa to expand throughout Latin America.
Emma picked Mexico in part because financial exclusion there is more common among women than men. Women are almost 10 percent less likely to have access to a formal financial product than men, a gap that has stayed constant for a decade despite there being almost no gender gap in smartphone/cell phone ownership and mobile internet usage. A huge gap and also a huge opportunity for Jefa.
Within a few months of launching, Jefa had thousands of customers and tens of thousands on a waiting list. Jefa’s product is pretty straight-forward. Women can open a Jefa account for free on their smartphones. The registration process takes all of five minutes. Once registered, women can make person-to-person payments, set and track savings goals, and access financial education. These tools help women increase their resilience, manage their day-to-day expenses, and build wealth.
Put succinctly, Jefa is led by a women entrepreneur with the goal of providing financial strength and flexibility to other potential women entrepreneurs. What better example is there of the cause we celebrate on this Women’s Entrepreneurship Day?
Photo credit: Curt Carnemark / World Bank