Bangkok (ESCAP news) – The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the operations and financial stability of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) globally. The common challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, such as lack of assets to use as collateral and lower levels of digital literacy, have been further exacerbated due to the pandemic and disproportionately impacted women owned SMEs.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Good Return have formalized a partnership to support women SMEs in accessing the capital needed to support their business operations. The partnership will create a multi-country credit guarantee scheme across Cambodia, Nepal, Fiji and Samoa. International impact investors will be providing the funds to be guaranteed to partner financial institutions.
“As we tackle these difficult times, it is important that we work with our partners to address the urgent needs of women entrepreneurs. In partnering with Good Return, ESCAP hopes to not only address these needs in the short-term, but develop an ecosystem of financial partners who are able to appropriately service women SMEs in the long term,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.
Mr. Shane Nichols, CEO of Good Return further stated: “The Coronavirus does not know borders, or how much money one has. Many women businesses are impacted in many different ways. Access to relevant financial services is essential to make it through the crisis, especially for MSMSEs which have limited resources. For this reason, our work supporting these women is more important than ever.”
The guarantee fund is particularly targeted towards women owned and/or led SMEs. Good Return, with ESCAP’s support, will work directly with financial institutions to undertake gender self-assessments to assess the institutions internal structures, rules and policies - as well as financial product offerings – to ensure the institution is able to serve its women’s clients appropriately and with tailored products and services which meet women SME’s needs.
Good Return is a winner of ESCAP’s Women Enterprise Impact Investment Fund initiative, which is financially supported by the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada. Good Return is an accredited non-profit institution, supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
About ESCAP’s Catalysing Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme
This initiative is implemented under a regional programme initiative titled ‘Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship: Creating a Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ funded by the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada, and implemented by ESCAP. The programme aims to support the growth of women entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region through addressing the challenges faced at three levels: enabling policy environment, access to finance and use of ICT for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.unescap.org/our-work/social-development/gender-equality/catalyzing-women-s-entrepreneurship
About Good Return
At Good Return, our mission is to empower women to start or grow a small business so they can establish an income that enables them to break the poverty cycle for good. We do this by, (1) Facilitating access to responsible finance that helps women in poverty build family assets for the future; (2) Providing education in money management and livelihood skills to empower women to grow their incomes and save money for the future; and (3) Working with microfinance institutions and regulators to help create a sector which protects and empowers those living in poverty. To date, we have supported over 10,000 borrowers and educated over 50,000 in responsible money management through our financial education programs. For more information on Good Return and their approach towards gender lens investing please refer to https://www.goodreturn.org.au/impact-investing.