Raising awareness on existing financial products tailored for women entrepreneurs.
Gaps in supporting enterpreneurs
Despite the efforts of mainstream banks to develop some women-specific products, a key challenge remains the lack of awareness of the existence and working knowledge of the products. This in turn creates a missed opportunity for both women entrepreneurs and banks that might benefit from a reaching women in a more targeted way. Key insights gathered during our discussions with women entrepreneurs on some of the main challenges include:
1. Limited knowledge on where to access information
Women entrepreneurs face challenges in accessing information about banks' women-specific products, their criteria, and the application process. As a result, they often only receive assistance with opening an account and are unaware of potential offerings that could benefit their businesses. Encouraging women to become business customers by providing them with resources and streamlined information can improve credit processes' efficiency and increase their likelihood of success.
2. Insufficient breadth and depth of information provided
Some banks offer financial products for women, but many female entrepreneurs struggle to understand how these offerings meet their needs, even after seeking additional information. A lack of clarity can lead to frustration and wasted time, as one entrepreneur discovered after speaking with multiple bank officials. To better serve this customer segment, banks should design their products with women entrepreneurs in mind and provide comprehensive information to help them make informed decisions.
3. Limited distinction between women programming and women products
Women entrepreneurs have reported that while some banks did offer business seminars and workshops for women entrepreneurs, none of these were linked to any specific product or service benefits from the bank. Some of these seminars were not relevant to the entrepreneurs' needs and they would rather spend time understanding the bank's products and services to build successful relationships and access credit. To better support women entrepreneurs, banks should focus on understanding their specific needs and offer information sessions accordingly.
4. Innefficient communication channels
Women entrepreneurs prefer more formal communication channels such as emails and meetings for information on new bank products and services, as WhatsApp and phone calls are deemed inefficient. They also value having the time and opportunity to understand the product and receive information only on what is relevant to their businesses. Banks can use technology like machine learning and gender-specific data to identify the most effective communication channels and products to promote to women entrepreneurs at different stages of their businesses.
Based on these findings, we explore ways in which financial institutions can increase awareness of the products they offer and better support the success of women entrepreneurs:
Customer-centric approach to product development & customer service
Women business owners do not view the services and goods offered by financial institutions as revolutionary. To increase buy-in and satisfaction, financial institutions should involve users in the design process.
Deepen KYC process to better understand each woman’s business and needs
Financial institutions should review and update their KYC protocols to better reflect the diversity of their clients. By not collecting crucial information about the types of businesses run by women, there is a missed opportunity to innovate and improve the value proposition for these clients.
Product & strategy visibility at the branch level
Employees at bank branches play a vital role in shaping the interactions between financial institutions and women business owners. To increase awareness of gender-specific products, branch employees should be equipped with up-to-date and relevant information to share with female business owners. By doing so, women entrepreneurs can become more aware of products that are tailored to their specific needs.
When working with women entrepreneurs who have unique needs and concerns, financial institutions establish the following tools:
Communication guideline template for financial institutions and women entrepreneurs.
Templates to collect more relevant information about women’s businesses, as well as their needs. These can be modified for periodic collection.
Monitoring and Evaluation templates for relationship managers to use in collecting data about customer experience and satisfaction.