Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein was in Washington Wednesday to help the World Bank launch a $600 million fund to finance women-owned businesses in developing countries.
The Wall Street powerhouse seeded the fund with a $50 million investment, while the World Bank contributed $100 million through its International Finance Corp. The team hopes to attract other corporate investors and donors to raise the target $600 million.
The new venture, called the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility, aims to help close the estimated $300 billion credit gap that the IFC says exists for women-owned businesses. The facility will extend lines of credit and shoulder risk with local banks in developing countries to provide 100,000 women financing to grow their companies.
For Goldman, the venture is an outgrowth of its 10,000 Women initiative, which has provided business training to female entrepreneurs since 2008. Blankfein said by the end of 2013 the program had helped 10,000 women from 43 countries though a network of 90 academic and nonprofit partners.
As for the new fund, Blankfein said, “We hope the facility will demonstrate to banks, other commercial ventures around the world what powerful investments women are.”
He added: “In that way, [the program] is not just a transitional thing that will erode. It will appeal to people’s profit objectives to invest in women because it’s good business.”