Photo credit Freedigitalphotos.net

Photo credit Freedigitalphotos.net

Many of us know about the success of microfinance and the impact that it has had on the lives of many women and men in developing countries, but what about what I call the ‘Everywoman’? The ‘Everywoman’ are the women like you and I that struggle to gain access to capital for all sorts of reasons.  These reasons may include time off work to care for family members, leaving the corporate world to start an enterprise,  finding it difficult to get another job, or needing to start all over again after a long term relationship breakdown.  Some might be entrepreneurs (like me) who are looking for capital to grow a business, perhaps being lucky enough to secure a financing agent and are now working through the capital raising process and finding it less than satisfying. Still other women struggle to obtain a housing loan because of a lack of consistent employment history.

I have been talking about the need to change our banking system for some time, and with more and more women starting their own businesses or needing to secure an income for themselves and their families, the time to act is now!  Currently our banking system is based, in my opinion, on old economics.  Its largely based on an old market driven economy that promotes competition and a type of corporate behaviour that many women either can’t aspire to, or don’t want to aspire to. The world has changed, more and more people have to fend for themselves in a market driven economy where everything and everyone has a price.  We can no longer be reliant on a ‘job’ and secure income until we retire, yet being an entrepreneur can mean that you can no longer get a job because you no longer ‘tick the boxes’.  In desperation, or with a lack of employment choice, or a desire to change the current status quo, many women want to start their own businesses, but the traditional banking system doesn’t support them.  I think this may reflect the idea that women have small businesses, home based businesses, that seem insignificant when compared to a software start up company for example.

The nature of being an entrepreneur means sacrifice, so you may not seem to be a good risk for a bank or typical angel investor.   Traditional banking often asks you to mortgage your house to borrow seed capital, and that just doesn’t work for those women who have lost their financial security because of a divorce, illness or extended caring responsibilities.  As a result many great ideas get left on the shelf, or are bootstrapped with women struggling to make ends meet whilst trying to develop their businesses. Given the opportunity, who knows what they could develop.  More to the point, who really knows the impact that these businesses could have on the economy?

Laying a gender lens over existing systems, like the banking industry, starts to uncover barriers to the ‘everywoman’.  It also provides us with new possibilities. We must look beyond diversity and creating gender balance programs within organisations.  We need to look at the system that has formed over time, and which is currently creating barriers.  We then need to reconstruct or repackages systems and processes in order to find opportunities and innovations. And they are there; I know because I have already found them for a number of organisations.  This process forces them to think differently about the existing problems.

We can do a whole lot better in banking, and in the interim, women need to support and fund each other.  I don’t mean in the same fashion as the traditional capital-raising processes; there is another model just waiting for us.  What do you think? Is there room for a new financial system aimed specifically at a collaborative method that will more fully support female investment?

Why not subscribe to the discussion series below, or leave your comments at the bottom of the page and let’s get working on solutions.  #femaleinvestor #gendereconomics

This post is part of a series of articles and videos about Female Investment and Women’s Economic Empowerment

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