FINCA Kosovo: Business Loans for Women Support Entrepreneurship
On International Women’s Day in 2018, FINCA Impact Finance’s subsidiary in Kosovo launched an innovative loan product designed to empower women and help close the gender gap. FINCA Kosovo developed the Loan for Women Entrepreneurs in Business and Agribusiness specifically to help women grow and scale businesses. Since launching more than a year ago, the business loans for women have made positive social and commercial impacts, making the case for why financial institutions should emphasize outreach to women clients.
FINCA Kosovo’s Loan for Women Entrepreneurs provides the funds necessary for an entrepreneur to grow and scale her business. Each loan package is personalized and comes with special repayment terms including no disbursement fees and a grace period of up to 12 months.
“FINCA Kosovo launched this loan product because many women in Kosovo lack access to finance, while those who do receive loans are reliable and responsible clients,” said FINCA Kosovo CEO Ardian Kastrati. “We know that women support their families and create employment opportunities in their communities. Engaging women is socially impactful and a smart business decision.”
Over the past year, FINCA Kosovo has disbursed loans worth USD 10.9 million to 4,700 women (roughly 3,000 of whom received the Loan for Women Entrepreneurs), impacting thousands more people in the process.
High Repayment Rate on Business Loans for Women
It is important to note that increasing the client base has come without compromising portfolio quality. In fact, repayment rates for the business loan for women have been significantly higher than average for microfinance institutions in Kosovo. This demonstrates that lending to women, even microentrepreneurs without collateral, is less risky than many assume.
Addressing the gender gap is a major priority in Kosovo, where only 44 percent of adult women have a bank account. That figure is significantly lower than in other Western Balkan countries, with gender equality organizations identifying the lack of women’s economic empowerment as a barrier to gender balance. While many women participate in the economy as by operating small home-based businesses, few have access to the capital necessary to grow their businesses and make a larger impact in their communities.
Women in Business Need More than Capital
In addition to providing much-needed capital, FINCA Kosovo is supporting women entrepreneurs through FemEdu, a financial literacy and business networking program to help women grow their businesses.
By providing business loans for women and supporting services like business and financial literacy training, FINCA Kosovo is contributing to a broader social transformation in the country. Empowering women to start, sustain and scale successful businesses affirms what FIF already knows: that when given an opportunity to participate in the economy, women are capable of contributing to lasting economic development that benefits families and communities.