Category: Beyond Banking
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Sub category: Dreamstarter
13 March 2013

Supporting Women Entrepreneurs in Developing Countries

Niki Seelen from Business in Development Network (BiD) explains the background to the launch of a new collaboration with ING Group, which aims to increase the number of women entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Women can be significant contributors to economic growth in the developing world yet many women with great business ideas lack the funding and crucial non-financial support to help them launch their idea and succeed.

The Women in Business Challenge – organised by the Business in Development (BiD) Network, in partnership with ING and ICCO – is a business plan competition that assists female entrepreneurs in emerging markets to start and grow their business. The program engages emerging market entrepreneurs by helping them write their business plan, providing a business coach from ING and giving them the chance to win a business trip to the Netherlands and interaction with a network of over 46,000 like-minded entrepreneurs, coaches and investors.

ING coaches from all over the world, including ING DIRECT Australia, volunteer to support participants with the development of their business plan.  They share their skills and network to support entrepreneurs in improving their business skills and, in turn, they benefit from an inter-cultural experience and the opportunity to broaden their horizons by developing new competences. In a 3-month period, coaches and entrepreneurs work together via email and Skype to get the entrepreneur and her business plan ready to meet with potential investors.

While the coaching partnership begins with advice to improve a business plan, BiD Network encourages it to develop further into a long term mentoring relationship. In such cases, the additional guidance and support mentors provide accelerates the progression of both the entrepreneur and her business.

Since its creation in 2009, the Women in Business Challenge has provided support, coaching, visibility and finance to 600 women heading business in emerging countries. 15 finalists have been supported and coached, 4 of whom have been awarded as laureates.

To learn more about the initiative, visit

About BiD Network

BiD Network contributes to sustainable economic growth by stimulating entrepreneurship in emerging markets. With over 46,000 members and 10,000 business plans, is the world’s largest online community for emerging market SMEs, coaches and investors. Since 2005, BiD Network has launched 670 businesses, created more than 4700 direct jobs, and mobilised $15 million from investors. In November 2010, BiD Network was chosen by a G-20 jury as one of the 14 most innovative SME Finance organisations in the world.

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