Female entrepreneurs now represent nearly half of new businesses in developing markets, according to Standard Chartered. But despite the numbers, few resources are targeted to the needs and challenges faced by this growing demographic.
A new Arabic version of the Women in Business Resource Centre has launched to help fill this void.
Standard Chartered's latest online tool is designed to educate aspiring entrepreneurs through educational and interactive elements, including modules and exercises on planning, leadership skills and finances.
"Women rarely have access to advice that has been targeted to their particular needs," says Joanna Fielding, the chief financial officer of Standard Chartered Bank's western division and chair of the Group Women's Council, an organisation formed by the bank in 2007 to encourage gender diversity.
"Our resource centre offers practical information as well as tools that have been specifically designed for women entrepreneurs, around topics such as influence and negotiation, marketing to female customers and the right reasons for scaling up one's business."
Through an interactive platform, the online portal also allows clients to share ideas, business tips and feedback. Employees at Standard Chartered's Business Resource Centre are also available to assist clients, and there are motivational videos available to download.
But the core of the website is a series of modules that cover many of the finer points of business and investing, including reviewing financial statements, analysing balance sheets, controlling cash flow, leadership and marketing to women and targeting female customers.
To access the features, clients must first fill out a registration form. However, you don't need to be a Standard Chartered customer to participate and registration is free.
Deanna Othman, the general manager of premium banking and the head of diversity and inclusion for the bank, says the institution is keen to "champion" female entrepreneurs by providing the right products and services.
"The launch of the Arabic version of the Women in Business Resource Centre reflects our commitment to encourage and develop the skills of women locally, regionally and globally," she says.
In the UAE, of the 2,200 employees at Standard Chartered, she adds that more than 40 per cent are women, working at all levels of management.