Women en­trepreneurs get boost at G20

World Bank launches loan pro­gram for women in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

The World Bank yes­ter­day launched a pub­lic-pri­vate loan pro­gram aimed at pro­vid­ing over $1 bil­lion to sup­port women en­trepreneurs in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, a project first ini­ti­ated by US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s daugh­ter Ivanka Trump. The event put a spot­light on the pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal role Ivanka Trump plays in the White House, where she has a for­mal job as an ad­viser to her fa­ther, and has fre­quently met with world lead­ers, in­clud­ing Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau.

The World Bank said ini­tial fund­ing of $325 mil­lion was com­ing from donors in­clud­ing Ger­many, the United States, Saudi Ara­bia and the United Arab Emi­rates, and would be matched by hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in ad­di­tional pri­vate cap­i­tal. “This is go­ing to be what we hope will be a multi-bil­lion dol­lar fund to sup­port women en­trepreneurs,” World Bank Pres­i­dent Jim Yong Kim said at a launch at­tended by six of the 20 world lead­ers meet­ing at the G20 sum­mit in Hamburg and IMF Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Chris­tine La­garde. “This is not a cute lit­tle project. This is go­ing to be a ma­jor driver of eco­nomic growth in the fu­ture ... and it’s go­ing to drive gen­der equal­ity at the same time,” he said.

The pro­gram, which aims to start award­ing loans be­fore year end, will work with gov­ern­ments “to im­prove laws and reg­u­la­tions that are sti­fling women en­trepreneurs” and push banks to free up funds for fe­male-owned busi­nesses. It will also cre­ate an on­line men­tor­ing tool to match women busi­ness own­ers in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries with ad­vis­ers such as Ivanka Trump, Kim said. Women busi­ness own­ers at the event said it was im­por­tant to tackle le­gal bar­ri­ers that pre­vent women from own­ing prop­erty and limit their ac­cess to funds.

“The em­pow­er­ment of women is ab­so­lutely essen­tial,” United Na­tions Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res told par­tic­i­pants, de­cry­ing what he called re­gres­sion in women’s rights even in in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries. Merkel said she was im­pressed how quickly the bank had re­al­ized the project, which was first ini­ti­ated five months ago. “If ev­ery­thing went as quickly at the World Bank ... then we would be much more ef­fi­cient,” she said.

Trump pledges 50 mil­lion

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said yes­ter­day the US would con­trib­ute $50 mil­lion to the new World Bank fund con­ceived by his daugh­ter. He said the fund would help elim­i­nate bar­ri­ers for women to launch busi­nesses, help trans­form “mil­lions and mil­lions of lives,” and “pro­vide new hope to th­ese women from count­less com­mu­ni­ties all across the world.”“The crit­i­cal in­vest­ments we’re an­nounc­ing to­day will help ad­vance the eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment of women around the world,” he said.

The pres­i­dent has been crit­i­cized for crude re­marks he’s made about women over the years, in­clud­ing a re­cent tweet fo­cus­ing on a tele­vi­sion news host’s ap­pear­ance. Trump’s se­nior staff is dom­i­nated by men, de­spite the con­sid­er­able in­flu­ence of Ivanka Trump, who serves as a se­nior White House ad­viser. In ad­di­tion to the US, Ger­many and Canada, the new fund has also re­ceived con­tri­bu­tions from Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Ja­pan, Aus­tralia, China, Den­mark, the Nether­lands, Nor­way, and South Korea.

Dur­ing his 2016 cam­paign, Trump fre­quently crit­i­cized ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ties to her fam­ily’s Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, which re­ceived mil­lions in do­na­tions from Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates and sev­eral other Mideast na­tions for char­i­ta­ble work. Dur­ing an Oc­to­ber gen­eral election de­bate in Las Ve­gas, Trump de­manded that Clin­ton “give back the money you’ve taken from cer­tain coun­tries that treat cer­tain groups of peo­ple so ter­ri­ble.”

He said then: “Saudi Ara­bia giv­ing $25 mil­lion, Qatar, all of th­ese coun­tries. You talk about women and women’s rights? So th­ese are peo­ple that push gays off ... build­ings. Th­ese are peo­ple that kill women and treat women hor­ri­bly. And yet you take their money.” Of­fi­cials stressed that Ivanka Trump will not have an oper­a­tional or fundrais­ing role with the fund, which will be run by a gov­ern­ing com­mit­tee of con­trib­u­tors. Trump also took the op­por­tu­nity to praise Ivanka Trump, who at one point Satur­day was spot­ted sit­ting in her fa­ther’s seat at am of­fi­cial G-20 event.

Trump said he’d been proud of her since “day one,” and of­fered a rare, self-dep­re­cat­ing as­sess­ment of the chal­lenges he’s added to her life. “If she weren’t my daugh­ter, it would be so much eas­ier for her,” he said with laugh, adding: “That might be the only bad thing she has go­ing, if you want to know the truth.” Ivanka Trump has faced sus­tained crit­i­cism from op­po­nents of her fa­ther who’d hoped she would be able to push him to adopt more moder­ate poli­cies. Many have la­beled her “com­plicit” in his agenda.

—AFP

SHANG­HAI: This pic­ture taken on July 3, 2017 in Shang­hai shows two men (cen­tre) rid­ing bi­cy­cles from a shar­ing com­pany. Au­thor­i­ties in Shang­hai and Tian­jin will im­pose reg­u­la­tions on the rapidly grow­ing bike-shar­ing sec­tor fol­low­ing mount­ing com­plaints over an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of mil­lions of the rentable two-wheel­ers on city streets, state me­dia re­ported.

—AFP

HAMBURG: The daugh­ter of the US Pres­i­dent, Ivanka Trump (C-L), looks on as the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF) Chris­tine La­garde (C-R) speaks dur­ing the panel dis­cus­sion “Launch Event Women’s En­tre­pre­neur Fi­nance Ini­tia­tive” on the second day of the G20 Sum­mit in Hamburg, Ger­many, yes­ter­day.

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