[Morocco] Banque Populaire launches microfinance program for women
Morocco’s Banque Centrale Populaire (BCP) announced the creation of “Gender Bond,” the country’s first microfinance project geared towards women.
The announcement comes on International Women’s Day, a worldwide celebration of womanhood and femininity and a focal point in the global movement for women’s rights.
BCP’s new project will spearhead a new subordinated bond, implemented through BCP-subsidiary Attawfiq Microfinance, dedicated to financing Morocco’s female entrepreneurs and project leaders.
The Casablanca-based bank’s new “Gender Bond” follows a similar structure to BCP’s innovative green bond program inaugurated in 2017. The project, which blends traditional investment and sustainability, secured nearly €150 million (MAD 1.6 billion) in foreign funding dedicated to renewable energy projects across the country.
BCP hopes the women-centered microfinance project, the first of its kind in Morocco, will mark a step in the right direction in improving financial independence and mobility for the country’s women.
In 2019, the United Nations’ Gender Equality Index ranked Morocco 121 of 189 countries based on factors including educational access for women, maternal mortality rates, and labor force participation.
The study quantifies that Moroccan men are over three times as likely to have a job as the country’s women, while the disparities are even greater for positions of leadership.
Only one in 10 of Morocco’s entrepreneurs are women, per recent figures from the Association of Women Entrepreneurs (AFEM). The findings indicate that the country’s greatest obstacles to female entrepreneurship include social pressures, familial expectations, and lack of access to startup capital for women.
For startups entirely led by women, the figure falls to a measly 2.4%.
However, programs like “Gender Bond” can make all the difference by putting capital directly into the hands of female entrepreneurs.
Banque Centrale Populaire is Morocco’s second-largest bank, reporting over $20 billion (MAD 180 billion) in revenue annually.