From authoring books such as Women Who Work to developing the Trump administration's paid family leave policy, Ivanka Trump has positioned herself as an advocate for women in the workplace. And while her endeavors up until now have been largely concentrated at home, she's taking those efforts abroad by helping roll out a new financing and policy facility with the World Bank aimed at helping female-led businesses in developing countries.
In late April, the first daughter announced that she planned to create a fund to help female entrepreneurs around the globe. Now, a little over two months later, those plans have become a reality with the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi.)
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim made the announcement at the G20 summit in Germany on Saturday.
"Empowering women economically is a moral issue, but it’s also a critical economic issue," Kim said at an event about female entrepreneurship. "No country, organization, or economy can reach its full potential and meet the challenges of the 21st century without the full and equal participation of women and men."
A senior White House official told reporters on Friday that the scale and mission of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative is highly unique, because there have not been previous facilities of this type that attend to the needs of women-led ventures.
Some of the challenges female entrepreneurs disproportionally face around the world include a lack of capital and access to technology, the absence of a strong network, and in many cases, policy obstacles that make it difficult for them to own a venture and further develop it.
"Worldwide, women-owned entities represent more than 30% of formal registered businesses, but 70% of women-owned small and medium enterprises in developing countries are either shut out of financial institutions or can’t get the capital they need," Kim said.
The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative counts with $1 billion in financing, which would be used to provide resources to female job creators. The organization hopes than in turn these efforts would increase the percentage of female labor participation globally. (A recent study analyzing workforce statistics of 114 countries found that women's median share of the labor force is about 45.4%.)
The key aspects of the initiative are to provide mentorship, financial, and market opportunities to female entrepreneurs. There will also be space to invest in programs that support women-led businesses.
According to the World Bank, fundraising efforts for the project exceeded the organization's goals.
Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates are the first countries to make donations to the project. President Trump announced that the U.S. will make a $50 million contribution. It also had been previously reported that Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E pledged a combined $100 million to the fund during Trump's first foreign trip in May.
We-Fi is established as a financial intermediary fund (FIF), a typical arrangement for international initiatives that draws both public and private resources.
Even though the first daughter is the architect behind the initiative, a senior White House official said she won't be involved in fundraising efforts. However, Trump will continue to champion the facility as an advocate.