WOCCU Gender Investing Framework Toolkit (GIFT) Helps Women Entrepreneurs in Senegal Secure More Loans with Improved Terms

Pilot project also shows credit unions achieved better outcomes lending to women

May 18, 2022

MADISON, Wis.—Four credit unions that piloted World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) Gender Investing Framework Toolkit (GIFT) in Senegal saw evidence of better performance in loans to female entrepreneurs.  

Approximately 59% of new micro-, small- and medium-enterprise (MSME) loans went to women in the final project quarter, with delinquency rates for women about four times lower on average than for similar loans to men.  

Funded by USAID, GIFT was designed for credit unions and piloted through four affiliates of the UM-PAMECAS network in Senegal. GIFT addresses gender disparities in credit union lending portfolios to improve women’s access to financial services and their needs as entrepreneurs, while boosting their leadership within credit unions. By creating better financial products and helping grow member businesses, credit unions promote positive social outcomes and increase financial returns. 

Based on applications and findings of GIFT assessments and activities with PAMECAS members and stakeholders, new credit terms were designed and piloted to decrease existing collateral requirements and increase ceiling amounts on loans for women entrepreneurs.  

PAMECAS also designed two new credit products to test. Credit Nopale Jigueen (Lighten Women’s Load) is an equipment loan with a ceiling of about US $8,650 designed to help rural women entrepreneurs finance their businesses. Credit Bawane (Growth, Prosperity) is a working capital loan with a ceiling of about US $5,187 designed for women entrepreneurs to finance their short-term accounts payable needs and avoid cash flow problems.  

WOCCU’s team in Senegal also conducted specialized trainings to increase credit agents’ capacity to understand the needs of women entrepreneurs and better guide them, including on financing agriculture value chains and legal requirements for entity forming and formalization of businesses. The initiative inspired PAMECAS to start designing a formalization kit, including guides on requirements to formalize a business, information on types of incorporations and tax implications in compliance with legal systems. Another GIFT application is the Gender Dashboard, which was developed with credit committee members to better track credit approval for women and increase awareness on disbursement time and performance data.  

By the end of December 2021, the pilot credit unions reached:  

  • 1,960 new women members benefiting from financial products and services. 
  • 401 new groups, each comprised of five micro and small women entrepreneurs on average. 
  • Six new formal businesses registered by women entrepreneurs. 

“UM-PAMECAS is now formalizing the approach we piloted and will embed it into their credit practices across its network of credit unions,” said Megan O’Donnell, WOCCU Senior Vice President of Financial Inclusion. “The pilot proved so successful that WOCCU is now looking to take GIFT and implement it through credit union networks in other countries where we are currently implementing development projects.” 

World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.

World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 90 countries. Worldwide, 82,758 credit unions in 97 countries serve 404 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at

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Contact: Greg Neumann
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
Phone: +1 608-395-2048
Women Entrepreneurs in Senegal
Women Entrepreneurs in Senegal

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