Palestinian Women Break Through the Glass Ceiling of Lending Practices

Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs (APWE) is TYO’s fifth entrepreneurship program that seeks to help women in Northern Palestine establish or expand their micro-businesses. TYO provides women with the opportunity to attend psychological and social trainings with TYO’s in-house psychologist; develop or refine their business plans with Ramallah-based Small Enterprise Center (SEC); participate in a three-week business English and IT intensive; and create their marketing materials after working with a branding and marketing expert.

While APWE will provide a plethora of trainings for their existing and budding entrepreneurs, there is a larger societal issue TYO seeks to address and help solve in order for all female entrepreneurship to thrive. While the majority of the Palestinian economy is comprised of small and medium enterprises, female entrepreneurship is significantly low. Many factors contribute to low female entrepreneurship like conservative societal and banking practices limiting women’s access to financial services.

Bank of Palestine manager account manager answers a financial question from Fathia.

According to July 31, 2015 article from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, “Providing women with access to banks — giving them a safe place to save money, acquire credit and obtain insurance — allows them to gain better control over their lives and the lives of their families. Indeed…when women in the developing world are able to participate in economic decisions, relationships within their homes become more equitable and they invest more in their children’s health and education. Over time, this research shows, this contributes to the cycle of poverty alleviation.”

Many women in Palestine face challenges borrowing money from banks due to most banks’ collateral requirements. TYO believes it is important for steps to be taken for women to have easier access to financial services that will assist them in expanding their business. TYO and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women are in the process of hiring a research consultant to determine the many restrictions women face in accessing financial services and start-up capital. The results of this study can be utilized to advocate to banks and other stakeholders to shift the discriminatory lending practices that have historically prohibited women in Palestine from acquiring loans.

TYO knows that women in Northern Palestine have the vision, determination, and grit to successfully start and maintain their businesses. We also know that these women will be most apt to thrive in a society that supports their efforts to access the financial services and start-up capital they need to soar.

- Women's Empowerment Program Manager, Vanessa