Inclusive implementation of the Women Empowerment Principles enhances Enat Bank’s performance


Ms. Tigist
Ms. Tigist Abate, Vice President of Enat Bank. (Photo: UN Women/Fikerte Abebe)

Enat bank, also known as Women’s bank, a private commercial bank established by Ethiopian women, confirmed its commitment to advance Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment by becoming a signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) over a year ago. The bank envisions to maximize and promote female capability in economic inclusion since its establishment over sixteen years ago. According to the bank’s managers, partnering with UN Women and being a signatory have contributed to advance the bank’s performance than ever before. These include from tripling its number of branches country wide with gender departments to becoming the pioneer trusted gender focused financial institution supporting women to access gender-responsive financial and non-financial services as well as to technically support other banks, private sectors and non-governmental organizations engaged in socio-economic empowerment of women at country and regional levels.

According to the bank’s managers’ view, applying the WEPs at individuals, departments, institutional and community levels impacted the bank’s progress. Ms. Tigist Abate, Vice President of Enat Bank explained some of the results from the commitment at leadership level, “Being a women focused bank, Enat bank’s approaches have some commonalities with the WEPs. Considering the internal and external high demand of women to be supported, we daily experience gaps while delivering services. The principles, beyond making us to be more accountable as our yardstick, their detailedness revealed to us that gender issues are not only women’s issues, rather a business case. To bring impactful results we have been aggressively implementing all-inclusive approaches aiming to institutionalize gender responsive service delivery through creation of understanding and change attitudes at all levels for the benefit of women and communities as a whole. In this regard, one of our key achievements is the decentralization of the gender department from headquarters level to over 175 branches country wide. This enabled us to more intensely engage in capacity building of new branch managers and other staff, who usually join us at gender blind level. The WEPs are valuable tools of our operation; from induction of our new staff, to implementing and evaluating of our results.”

Ms. Tenagne
    Ms. Tenagne Bassa, Director for Women Banking Solution unit. (Photo: UN Women/Fikerte Abebe)  

Although the bank’s technical engagement in addressing gender constraints that prevent women from accessing financial and non-financial services is escalating through supporting various sectors and platforms, the bank’s limited resources stated among the key challenges. Being a signatory to WEPs, however, is viewed as an opportunity and Ms. Tigist said, “One of the key challenges of the bank is being a trustworthy institution to address women issues with limited resources. When we see the passion and determination of women to invest and grow, and our inability to meet all the women's financial needs distresses us. Signing the principles provided the opportunity to be a model for all private banks to provide more women inclusive services and to confirm their commitment. We have been using every opportunity to create awareness about the principles emphasizing that socio-economic development makes sense when the cost of not involving women is well understood. As a result, currently, some banks and financial institutions are coming to collaborate with us and initiate gender responsive services. Influencing other banks to address women’s need with high demand is inspiring.”

According to Ms. Tenagne, the empowerment of women at marketplace, is one of the areas that bank strengthened, “Before signing the principles, we used to support businesswomen to access public markets when we are approached. Now it is deliberately well planned to consistently increase women’s access to market linkages. For this year’s Christmas exhibition, for instance, as prime sponsor we funded over ninety women business owners to exhibit and sell their products. When we called the yearly general assembly of shareholders, we organized a side event for the businesswomen to trade their products. These are not only women directly affiliated with Enat bank, other partners’ supported women also participated.”

Exhibition photos
Enat Bank sponsored business women exhibit and sell their products at the Christmas exhibition. (Photo: UN Women/Fikerte Abebe)

The Women’s Empowerment Principles(WEPs) are a set of seven Principles for business offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace, and community. They are the result of a collaboration between UN Women and the United Nations Global Compact. UN Women Ethiopia Country Office facilitated the signing of WEPs with Enat Bank in December 2022 to confirm their commitment to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

WEP signing
WEPs signing event of 2022. (Photo: UN Women/Fikerte Abebe)