The social development bank for Europe

Women mean business in times of COVID

Thanks to microfinance female entrepreneurs in Spain reinvent their business models to adapt to the pandemic.

Leticia DominguezA total of 8,522 women in Spain received support from MicroBank, CaixaBank's social bank, in 2020, a year marked by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. Women entrepreneurs have received 31% of MicroBank's specific loans to alleviate the effects of Covid-19. In the majority of cases, these loans were used to pay for: 

  • day-to-day business expenses (34%)
  • paying suppliers (22%) 
  • renting the office or premises (18%) 

In relation to the success of the businesses started by women, 86% of the cases are still running, while 7% have had to close down. This percentage is 3% for businesses led by men, partly because they are not so closely linked to the sectors most affected by the pandemic.

Committed to reinventing

The case of Leticia Domínguez is one of the many examples of entrepreneurs who have had to reinvent themselves as a result of the pandemic. 

A few years ago she started LD arte y Moda, a personal project in Seville dedicated to the design, production and commercialisation of handmade flamenco fashion and launched her website and online sales thanks to the granting of a microcredit by MicroBank.  

The COVID-19, however, forced her to rethink her business model. 

"During the pandemic I couldn't show my work at fairs or fashion shows, so I decided to focus on reinforcing my training, reorienting the activity and diversifying production with the making of scarves and fans, among other products", explains Domínguez, a firm advocate of sustainable fashion and fair trade. 

Women entrepreneurs in Spain: data

According to a study carried out by MicroBank in collaboration with Stone Soup Consulting, the main motivation for women to pursue entrepreneurship is a clear business opportunity (42%), the desire to gain independence and to be their own boss (25%) and vocation (13%). In addition, for 13% of women, the main motivation for entrepreneurship is to reverse a situation of unemployment. 

According to MicroBank data, women entrepreneurs hire other women much more than men, 46% compared to 29%. Women are also more likely than men to apply for a microcredit to start a business, 48% compared to 26%. 

With regard to the favourite sectors for women entrepreneurs, retail trade (30%), hotels and restaurants (23%) and hairdressing and beauty businesses (20%) stand out. This data contrasts with the new businesses promoted by men, who opt in a lower proportion than women for commerce and the hotel and catering business. 

Supporting microfinance and socially responsible banking in Spain 

MicroBank responds to different segments of the population whose financial needs are not sufficiently covered. It plays a decisive role in CaixaBank's Socially Responsible Banking Plan, in which it is entrusted with the mission of promoting financial inclusion and facilitating access to credit for the most vulnerable groups. 

“MicroBank's desire to be at the side of entrepreneurs and the self-employed with the aim of contributing to the creation of wealth and well-being was even stronger in 2020. It has been a complex year, but despite the difficulties, women entrepreneurs have continued to demonstrate that there is a lot of talent in Spain that is worth supporting for their own benefit and that of society", explains Cristina González Viu, CEO of MicroBank. 

The CEB has been supporting MicroBank since its founding in 2008 through five loan operations totaling €380 million. The new funds from the CEB will allow MicroBank to continue applying particularly competitive conditions adapted to the needs of its clients.

In the last report received, MicroBank granted a total of 5 716 loans amounting to €139 million and has contributed to the direct creation of more than 12 500 jobs. 

“Access to employment and financial inclusion are hugely important for sustainable growth and social coherence,” says Maria Siguenza, Country Manager for Spain. 

“Through our partnership with MicroBank, CEB targets a large number of entrepreneurs across Spain, many of them women. By supporting women’s initiatives, we empower them to overcome barriers and achieve their goals. “ 

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This story is part of the Council of Europe Development Bank’s social media campaign, Women Mean Business, to mark the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021. 

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