Insights on lending opportunities to women-led businesses: Myanmar

  • August 22, 2022

  • Publications, guides and communication materials


Access to and control over financial services and products are key components of women’s economic empowerment. They contribute to gender equality, poverty reduction and inclusive economic growth benefitting the family and community. The opportunity to access credit and savings products allows women to smooth their consumption, manage risks, grow their businesses, accumulate assets and build wealth.

Yet women entrepreneurs face gender-based constraints in building their businesses, including demand, supply and regulatory barriers, and cultural and social norms that are both spoken and unspoken. The result is exclusion and unequal access to resources.

However, the effect of gender bias or gender neutrality in financial services is not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, UNCDF with the support from the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund and together with UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), interviewed financial service providers (FSPs) and development actors in Myanmar to better understand the types of MSME loan products available to and serving women entrepreneurs.

Building upon previous work in the area of gender-responsive micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) finance, including an earlier paper on gender-smart microfinance product development and enterprise lending with recommendations for MFIs and policymakers, UNCDF identified ways to improve women’s access to relevant financial services and products. This new paper Insights on lending opportunities to women-led businesses: Myanmar provides recommendations to FSPs and to the development community in Myanmar to improve women’s financial inclusion.

The changing political situation after the military coup d’état in 2021, and turbulent market dynamics due to the pandemic have contributed to even greater challenges for women entrepreneurs to survive and grow their businesses but demand for relevant financial and nonfinancial support remains high, and the key recommendations from this research remain relevant.

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lending challenges and opportunities to women-led businesses in Myanmar

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