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COVID-19 crisis could set-back a generation of women in business

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Women across the world have been disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – a staggering 87% of women business owners say they have been adversely affected. Overrepresentation in sectors hardest hit by the economic downturn (tourism, retail, F&B, etc), the pronounced digital gender gap in an increasingly virtual world, and the mounting pressures of childcare responsibilities are only a few factors that have left women particularly vulnerable.

In tackling this stark disparity and unlocking the fullest potential of women in business, the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) 2020 report findings make a compelling case for building on targeted gender-specific policy best practices internationally.

Now in its fourth year, MIWE highlights the vast socio-economic contributions of women entrepreneurs across the world, as well as providing insight on the factors driving and inhibiting their advancement. Through a unique methodology – drawing on publicly available data from leading international organizations, such as the OECD and International Labor Organization – MIWE 2020 includes a global ranking on the advancement of women in business in pre-pandemic conditions across 58 economies (including 15 in the Asia Pacific region), representing almost 80% of the female labor force.

MIWE 2020’s top performing economy is a prime example of gender-specific support mechanisms having swift and significant results. For the first time, Israel tops the MIWE as best economy for women entrepreneurs worldwide, advancing from 4th place in 2019. With an ambition to double the number of female entrepreneurs within two years, Israel’s success has been driven by a focused institutional backing for SMEs – its ‘Support for SMEs’ ranking catapulted from 42nd place in 2019, to 1st in 2020.

Last year’s strong performers, the United States and New Zealand – although dropping from 1st to 2nd,and 2nd to 4th places respectively – demonstrate that economies with mature gender focused initiatives still out-perform on the global stage through continued focus on advancing conditions for women in business. In both these economies, favorable cultural perceptions of entrepreneurism, the high visibility of female leaders that serve as role models for aspiring entrepreneurs, and supportive entrepreneurial conditions play a crucial role in their success.

It is noteworthy that the majority of economies (34 out of a total of 58 in this report) have healthy MIWE scores of 60 to 70 such as Australia, Indonesia, Mainland China, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia while 13 economies have lower scores of 50 to 60 such as Japan and India.

Of the 58 markets included in the Index, 12 moved up by five or more ranks year-on-year, while 10 fell by five or more. Asia Pacific’s fast-rising markets include Mainland China (+6) and Indonesia (+5) while the largest drops were seen in Singapore (-12), Philippines (-10), Hong Kong SAR (-8) and Vietnam (-7).

“What the findings make clear is that regardless of an economy’s wealth, level of development, size, and geographic location, gender inequalities continue to persist – even pre-pandemic. What COVID-19 did is that it exacerbated an already problematic situation. It disproportionately disrupted women’s lives and livelihoods to a greater extent than men due to a few pre-existing factors: the jobs and sectors women tend to work in, childcare and domestic responsibilities and the pre-existing gender disparity in business.

Yet, through the pandemic we’ve seen women’s strength and endurance in the face of adversity. If anything, this year has illuminated how vast women’s potential really is. But this moment in time is fragile unless governments, financial services and business organizations come together to do three things: offer systemic support and programs to enable women to survive and thrive in this new normal, equip them with skills to navigate the digital world, and nurture an equitable, accessible financial services system that supports women’s work and entrepreneurship. These are not easy to deliver, but investments like these can yield priceless dividends for not only women, but society as a whole,” said Julienne Loh, Executive Vice President, Enterprise Partnerships, Asia Pacific, Mastercard.

COVID-19 has posed setbacks, but also opportunity

MIWE 2020 also provides initial analysis on the ramifications of COVID-19 on women at work, and draws out effective support policies. Although differing from economy to economy, those proving most effective include expansive relief measures for SMEs – from wage subsidies to furlough schemes and fiscal bailouts – as well as state childcare support.

Crucially, the report presents an optimistic outlook for the future of women entrepreneurs. It indicates that the pandemic could prove a catalyst for exponential progress for women in business and an opportunity to course-correct gender bias. It draws on several points to illustrate this, notably:

• The COVID-19 era presents an empowering narrative for women in leadership, providing inspiration at a time when cultural barriers and fear of failure still impede some women from business ventures. COVID-19 has highlighted women’s ability to lead under extraordinary circumstances. Female world leaders such as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and the leadership of Chinese Taipei Dr. Tsai Ing-Wen have presided over some of the most successful efforts in containing COVID-19 while instilling order, assurance, trust and calm. With almost half (47.8%) of female entrepreneurs reporting being driven by a desire to contribute to the greater societal good, the impact these leaders have cannot be underestimated.

• Women in business are already demonstrating marked adaptability, despite extensive barriers to success. On the frontline, women business owners are adapting to the new world of work with renewed confidence. 42% have shifted to a digital business model and 34% have identified new business opportunities since the pandemic.

• The ‘next normal’ presents a once-in a-lifetime opportunity to remove existing barriers, driving greater gender participation and parity for women in business. As well as magnifying several fold the many disparities women in business face – from the digital gender gap to financial inclusion – COVID-19 has been an intense stimulus for structural progress.

The report notes that implications of these observations are profound. It further demonstrates the untapped value of women as leaders and, critically, highlights the role of the pandemic in expediating progressive solutions. Leveraging this momentum and championing gender-specific initiatives will be critical to realizing women’s potential and winding down the $172 trillion lost globally (World Bank) due to the differences in lifetime earnings between women and men.

Mastercard’s commitment to driving forward inclusion

Sue Kelsey, Executive Vice President, Global Consumer Products and Financial Inclusion, Mastercard said: “A crisis will always reveal vulnerabilities in the system, and COVID-19 has done that in spades. We have seen the staggering extent of the disparity women in business face. But unlike any other economic downturn, COVID-19 has also paved the way for considerable progress and we have seen what can be achieved when priority is given.”

The MIWE report is just one component in Mastercard’s broader mission to drive forward the advancement of the disconnected and disadvantaged, with a particular commitment to support and help advance female entrepreneurs and small businesses through initiatives such as its Start Path and Path to Priceless programs. In 2020, Mastercard expanded its worldwide financial inclusion commitment, pledging to bring a total of one billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025. As part of this effort, there will be a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses, through a range of initiatives crossing funding, mentoring and the development of inclusive technologies.

• Download the MIWE 2020 report and supporting assets here.

• View case studies for New Zealand (p23), South Korea (p33) and Indonesia (p51) in Appendix 1

• Learn more about Mastercard’s efforts to engage, enable and empower women here.

Methodology

MIWE provides world-leading analysis on how women in business are progressing across 58 global economies. Representing almost 80 percent of the international female labour force, the MIWE provides deep-dive analysis on the socioeconomic factors propelling and inhibiting their success.

Through a unique methodology – involving detailed analysis across 12 indicators and 25 sub-indicators spanning Advancement Outcomes, Knowledge Assets & Financial Access, and Supporting Entrepreneurial Conditions – the index ranks 58 economies according to performance over the past year. Aggregating these scores, the index is able to provide an overall grading of how successful individual economies are in advancing female entrepreneurialism in comparison to peers in pre-COVID19 conditions.

This year’s report also provides additional analysis on the early ramifications of emergency measures implemented by governments and business for women entrepreneurs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic across 40 global economies.

The MIWE findings provide clarity and understanding for governments, policymakers, stakeholders, businesses and individuals alike wishing to understand the crucial role of women in business and apply learnings from global economies.

– The End –

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.comMastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

Mastercard Communications ContactSarah Guldin, +65 6390 6199

sarah.guldin@mastercard.com



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LOLC Al-Falaah unveils pioneering Wadi’ah Gold-Storage Facility with multiple customer benefits

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Sri Lanka’s most awarded and trusted Alternate Financial services brand, LOLC Al-Falaah recently unveiled their ground-breaking new product – the Wadi’ah Gold Loan Facility. This is the 1st time a Finance company in Sri Lanka is offering this facility. Al-Falaah Wadi’ah is a unique gold storage option offered to Al-Falaah’s valued customer base. All gold articles are tested for quality and authenticity using state-of-the art equipment by the company’s experienced staff without causing any damage to the jewellery. A unique ‘Gold Storage Certificate’ with the description of articles, including weight, quality and quantity along with the market value will be issued to the customer when obtaining this facility.

Speaking about the new product, Mr. Shiraz Refai, Deputy General Manager of LOLC Al-Falaah said, “Gold is a favourite investment option at all levels within the concentrated community. The metal is usually pawned, sold or exchanged when in need of cash. As the conventional Pawning options and Gold Loan offering has limitations to cater to the specific needs, as well as contradict with certain beliefs of the community, a concept acceptable and practiced in the industry is introduced by LOLC’s Alternate Financial Services Unit to its valued customer segment”.

Accordingly, a unique feature has been introduced to the Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold Storage facility offering the Customer the benefit of obtaining an interest-free maximum Cash-Advance in the industry at zero mark-up against the gold storage certificate value for any emergencies. In addition, for the convenience of the customers, the Gold storage facility period is extended from 3, 6 and 12 months without any requirement for a deposit and the custodial fees are comparatively competitive. The stored gold articles will also be offered a free Takaful cover with a reassurance of highest safety and security.

The Al-Falaah Wadi’ah gold storage facility will be initially available at selected branches including Wellawatta, Akkaraipattu, Kalmunai, Pottuvil, Grandpass, Maradana, Mawanella, Matara, Nawalapitiya and Negombo. Al-Falaah aims to make the facility available across all LOLC Finance branches and dedicated Al-Falaah centers island-wide by the end of the 1st quarter of 2021.

Commenting on the new Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold loan facility, Nishantha Jayasekera, Chief Manager, SME Unit & Head of Gold Loan Business of LOLC Finance said, “The main aim of this facility is to give financial-access to the grass-root level clients who do not have direct access to banking & finance, but require small cash advances to develop daily businesses and self-employment. Through this product and its value added features, we hope to cover all segments of the population”.

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LANKATILES donates high-end ventilator to Colombo North Teaching Hospital

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A Rs. 4.3 million ventilator has been donated to the Coronary Care Unit of the Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, by LANKATILES, the country’s leading tile manufacturer.

The machine was described as a high-end, world-class piece of equipment suitable for all patient groups.

Present at the official hand-over were Mr Mahendra Jayasekera, Managing Director of Lanka Walltiles PLC and Lanka Tiles PLC, Dr. S. P. A. Liyanage Ranaweera, Director of Colombo North Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Sanjeewa Rajapakse, Consultant Cardiologist of the hospital.

At a time when state-of-the-art equipment is urgently needed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, LANKATILES reaffirmed its commitment to help frontline hospital staff in their efforts at reducing the spread of the virus and easing patient numbers.

The company said this was a commitment it is ready to stand by at all times in the interests of the country.

 

 

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Sampath Bank hosts Central Bank’s ‘MatarataQR’ event to promote QR code use

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Matara, April 3rd, 2021: Sampath Bank PLC recently hosted the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL) MatarataQR event, in a bid to drive awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt the use of QR codes in their day-to-day transactions, the event was held at the Sanath Jayasuriya Grounds in Matara under the patronage of the Chief Guest, Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Power and Guest of Honour, D. Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; along with senior officials from the CBSL, other commercial banks and financial institutions. Sampath Bank was represented by Nanda Fernando – Managing Director; Tharaka Ranwala – Senior DGM – Operations / Group Chief Marketing Officer and Ajith Salgado – Group Chief Information Officer.

At the event, the Bank actively promoted its ‘WePay’ mobile wallet which helped attract more customers while also onboarding new merchants. A 25% cash back was on offer for payments at over 200 merchants in Matara on the day, made via the LANKAQR enabled WePay digital mobile payment app.

“We are very proud to partner with the Central Bank to host this event that will highlight the safety, convenience and speed of getting onboard the LANKAQR payment standard to the people of Matara. These benefits, coupled with the advanced digital banking solutions offered by Sampath Bank, make it a simple choice to migrate to digital payment technology and we warmly invite the merchants in Matara to come experience the benefits of adopting this new method of payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC.

Sampath Bank is a 100% local bank that has deeply rooted itself in the lives of the people of Sri Lanka. Established in 1987, the bank has become a state-of-the-art financial institution that continues to be a market leader today thanks to its constant innovation and customer focused approach to business. It has introduced many firsts to the Sri Lankan banking sector including introducing ATMs to Sri Lanka, extended banking hours and slip-less banking to name a few. The Bank is steadily transforming itself into a ‘tech company engaged in banking,’ from the traditional approach of a bank engaged in technology.

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