Women's World Banking

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Recognized as a top International Microfinance nonprofit in the following years:
Medal-big-2009
Medal-big-2012
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"Up" is the number of experts who agree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in the field. "Down" is the number of experts who disagree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in field.
Women-s-world-banking
Headquarters Location: New York, NY 
Founded: 1976 


Mission: The mission of the Women's World Banking global network is to expand the economic assets, participation and power of low-income women and their households by helping them access financial services, knowledge and markets.


Tags: 2012, international, microfinance, women, savings, training


Women-s-world-banking
Story: The girls’ savings pilots—XacBank’s “Aspire” and ADOPEM’s “Mia, Cuenta de Ahorros”—were rolled out in late 2009. Designing these products helped WWB understand the needs of girls. Research showed that girls as young as 10 regularly accumulate money, actively manage it,… Read the full story.

Expert Reviews: Evidence of Impact
Women's World Banking offers support services to microfinance intuitions to improve their overall performance and integrate them into the organization’s supportive network. Women's World Banking works globally to support women and their families through the microfinance model, but does not exclude anyone based on gender. They provide an array of training and development opportunities to strengthen these organizations. Women's World Banking is also mindful of not leaving out smaller organizations, especially those connecting with hard to reach populations.
See the complete expert review.

Leadership
Women-s-world-banking Mary Ellen Iskenderian. Mary Ellen Iskenderian is President and CEO of Women’s World Banking (WWB), the world’s largest network of microfinance institutions and banks. Ms. Iskenderian leads the WWB global team, based in New York, in providing hands-on technical services and strategic support to 39 top-performing microfinance institutions and banks in 27 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle… See full bio.


Transparency Information
Silver-big
This organization has earned the GuideStar Participation Level Silver, demonstrating its commitment to transparency (learn more)


Financial Data
Charity Navigator Rating: 2stars (profile)


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Contact Info
E-Mail:
fax_server AT swwb.org
Phone:
1 212-768-8513
Facebook:
Follow_fb
Address:
8 W 40th Street
 
New York, NY  10018 , USA
Twitter:
Follow_twitter


Women-s-world-banking Story: The girls’ savings pilots—XacBank’s “Aspire” and ADOPEM’s “Mia, Cuenta de Ahorros”—were rolled out in late 2009. Designing these products helped WWB understand the needs of girls. Research showed that girls as young as 10 regularly accumulate money, actively manage it, and want a safe place to save it. However, girls need to understand the “why” and “how” of saving before they will open accounts, reinforcing the importance of the educational component. Girls want financial literacy, but changing their behavior is a gradual process requiring multiple points of reinforcement over time.

The pilots also showed that school-based models are most effective in reaching large numbers of girls, with support from administrators, teachers and parents essential. Like adults, girls want a choice of products, accounts that are easy to open and use and a branch that is accessible. During these pilot programs, more than 2,000 girls and young women opened accounts and 1,300 participated in financial education classes.

Expert Reviews of Women's World Banking

Evidence of Impact Summary:

Women's World Banking offers support services to microfinance intuitions to improve their overall performance and integrate them into the organization’s supportive network. Women's World Banking works globally to support women and their families through the microfinance model, but does not exclude anyone based on gender. They provide an array of training and development opportunities to strengthen these organizations. Women's World Banking is also mindful of not leaving out smaller organizations, especially those connecting with hard to reach populations.
See expert comments.

Organization Strengths Summary:

Women’s World Bank (WWB) is working to set standards for some practices. Not only do they ask the organizations in their network to adhere to a set of principles, they are strong role models for these behaviors as well. WWB also has the benefit of strong programs and strong program staff. Their Center for Microfinance Leadership; for example, is an innovative program and attracts highly qualified individuals to oversee its work. They also have diverse and solid funding.
See expert comments.

Areas for Improvement Summary:

Women’s World Bank (WWB) has many great lessons to share. One expert suggests that WWB could work more on sharing their resources, which would support the sector as a whole. Since WWB and its network are so large, the organization could improve by improving communication and coordination throughout. This way they can be clearer on all activities within the network and they could better coordinate resources.
See expert comments.

Expert Comments: Evidence of Impact

Select the boxes to display the results according to expert type.

Show:
X
Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
X
Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
X
Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Supporting Microfinance Institutions

N
They have provided an enormous number of training and development opportunities for leaders of the microfinance industry around the world. They also teach a gender-empowered approach to microfinance (which does not exclude anyone from opportunities based on gender) that improves the overall performance of a microfinance institution.
N
Women's World Banking is re-thinking how they support microfinance to make sure they are supporting the smaller organizations that are reaching harder-to-reach clients.

Growing the Network

O
The number of financial institutions participating in their network is growing. Their impact is also well documented on their web site; one can see the many financial products they offer and the number of potential borrowers who have geographic access to the network.

Advocating for Women

N
Its importance is mainly in its advocacy for women in microfinance, both as providers and as clients.


Expert Comments: Organization Strengths

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Show:
X
Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
X
Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
X
Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Strong Programs

N
Their Center for Microfinance Leadership is enormously innovative. They have captured top talent to develop and lead their courses, making it a great asset to the industry. They have diverse funding and have managed to distance themselves from USAID-dependency.
N
Their program team has great depth. They are very innovative in providing concrete opportunities for volunteers.

Setting Standards

O
WWB has very strong guiding principles and member organizations pledge to adhere to those principles. Transparency in lending instruments is strongly promoted. Organizations act as very strong role models in communities where strong women-oriented organizations are not plentiful and strong role models are not that readily available.


Expert Comments: Areas for Improvement

Select the boxes to display the results according to expert type.

Show:
X
Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
X
Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
X
Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Share Lessons Widely

N
I would say that they need to work on expanding access to their training and materials so that their lessons have a broader impact industry-wide.

Improve Communication & Coordination

N
WWB is so large that it can seem like one hand doesn't know what the other is doing.
O
Their network could be more centrally organized so that there are even more common elements that benefit poor and marginalized women borrowers. Outreach to rural areas could be improved.

Increase Sector Impact

N
WWB has been a long time and influential voice in policy debates, but not on a par with ACCION. Its affiliates have not been as influential in providing guiding examples as the retail microfinance providers associated with some other microfinance support organizations.


Leadership

Women-s-world-banking
Mary Ellen Iskenderian
President & CEO
Mary Ellen Iskenderian is President and CEO of Women’s World Banking (WWB), the world’s largest network of microfinance institutions and banks. Ms. Iskenderian leads the WWB global team, based in New York, in providing hands-on technical services and strategic support to 39 top-performing microfinance institutions and banks in 27 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. WWB network members are diverse in geography, size and structure but are united in the firm belief that microfinance must remain committed to helping poor women access innovative financial products and services and information.WWB’s network members consistently rate among the top three microfinance institutions in their countries serving more than 26 million clients, 80 percent of whom are women.

Ms. Iskenderian joined WWB in 2006 and has continued to strengthen the organization’s position as the pre-eminent voice for women’s leadership and participation in microfinance. WWB, under Ms. Iskenderian’s leadership, works to ensure that women continue to be represented in this evolving industry as both clients and leaders.

Ms. Iskenderian has more than 20 years of experience in building global financial systems throughout the developing world. She is a strong advocate for moving microfinance beyond credit by providing low-income women with a full suite of financial products and services and a proponent for the role of responsible investment in the microfinance sector. Ms. Iskenderian has spoken widely on microfinance at Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Wharton and at numerous industry and banking forums including the annual conference of Le Cercle des Economistes, the Council on Foreign Relations, the IDB Foromic and the Microcredit Summit. She has been published in Forbes magazine and the Wall Street Journal; is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review blog; and is frequently quoted in the media, including the Financial Times, Newsweek, Time, BBC News and the Atlantic.

Ms. Iskenderian serves on the Board of Directors of Kashf Microfinance Bank in Pakistan and is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She acted as a topic leader for the “Girls and Women” action area for the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting and served as an advisor for “Girls and Women” for the 2011 CGI Annual Meeting. Ms. Iskenderian is a judge for the IFC / Financial Times Sustainable Banking Awards and was recently invited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be a member of the US delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) 2011 Women and the Economy Summit.

Ms. Iskenderian is a past recipient of NYU Stern’s Distinguished Citi Fellowship in Leadership and Ethics, the Isabel Benham Award from the Women’s Bond Club, and the companion Women’s Finance Award given by the Institute of Financial Services at Lucerne University, Switzerland.

Prior to WWB, Ms. Iskenderian worked for 17 years in senior management at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, where her numerous leadership positions included Director of Partnership Development, Director of the Global Financial Markets Portfolio and Director of the South Asia Regional Department. Previously, she worked for the investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Ms. Iskenderian holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a Bachelor of Science in International Economics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

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