Help women grow

Strong gains in education fuel women’s motivations for entrepreneurship and economic empowerment. Yet they face many closed doors to establish, register and grow their businesses in Asia and the Pacific. In Nepal, Sarita Kumari wants to expand her food processing business in Kathmandu beyond selling spice packs in the local market. But banks reject her loan applications because she does not own land or property as collateral.

The process is too complicated and biased, requiring a male guarantor. Her husband is nervous about sinking into debt and doubts she can manage a business while taking care of their household and four children. Across the region, millions of women like Sarita still lack access to finance. According to a report by the International Finance Corporation, this was true in 2012 for 73% of women-owned/led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in India. —