Watch: Driving gender equality in the financial system

In There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion Women, Mary Ellen Iskenderian uncovers why it takes more than microloans to empower women and promote sustainable, inclusive economic growth

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About the book:

Cover of There's Nothing Micro About a Billion Women by Mary Ellen Iskenderian, with the title, subtitle, and author name written in a blue box in the foreground. Behind this box is an image on top of a variety of fabrics in colors and patterns stacked on top of one another; on the bottom half of the cover is an image of a city skyline with a blue sky and rays of light coming out of the buildings.

Nearly one billion women have been completely excluded from the formal financial system. Without even a bank account in their own names, they lack the basic services that most of us take for granted—secure ways to save money, pay bills, and get credit. Exclusion from the formal financial system means they are economic outsiders, unable to benefit from, or contribute to, economic growth. Microfinance has been hailed as an economic lifeline for women in developing countries—but, as Mary Ellen Iskenderian reveals in There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion Women, it takes more than microloans to empower women and promote sustainable, inclusive economic growth. 

Iskenderian, who leads a nonprofit that works to give women access to the financial system, argues that the banking industry should view these one billion “unbanked” women not as charity cases but as a business opportunity: a lucrative new market of small business owners, heads of households, and purchasers of financial products and services. Iskenderian shows how financial inclusion can be transformative for the lives of women in developing countries, describing, among other things, the informal moneylenders and savings clubs that women have relied on, the need for both financial and digital literacy (and access) as mobile phones become a means of banking, and the importance of women’s property rights. 

There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion Women offers real-life examples, case studies, and research that demonstrate how stakeholders can come together to create a more gender-inclusive financial system, which would deeply affect the lives of many women around the world—and communities and economies—for the better,” Philanthropy News Digest wrote about the book.

Learn more about There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion Women