November 21, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST
BSR Launches HERfinance: Financial Inclusion Program for Women in Global Supply Chains

SOURCE: General Electric (GE)

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Nov. 21, 2012 /3BL Media/ - 2BSR’s new HERfinance initiative will create a financial literacy curriculum to educate female factory workers in global supply chains and help them access necessary financial products. HERfinance builds on BSR’s successful efforts to empower women in the global economy through programs such as HERproject, which has promoted health education among more than 200,000 female workers in factories and farms in eight countries.

HERfinance—which will begin with a pilot program in India and eventually expand to Asia and Africa—was created with a founding grant from the Walt Disney Company and is one of three major social investments recently made by Disney to support labor supply chain programs in India, China, and Brazil.

“Workplace programs are some of the most effective ways to reach low-income women, and HERfinance will provide essential training on topics like budgeting, saving, and using formal financial services,” said Racheal Yeager, BSR’s HERproject and HERfinance Manager. “HERfinance will empower key community influencers to change not only their own financial knowledge and behavior, but also that of their families and neighbors.”

Approximately 2.5 billion adults worldwide do not use formal financial services to save or borrow money, and 90 percent of these people live in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Ensuring that the poor—particularly women—have proper knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward financial management, and making sure they are able to participate in the formal financial sector, can help them save, build credit worthiness, invest, and reduce risks related to illness or loss of employment.

Women represent between 60 and 80 percent of the global export manufacturing labor force and 70 percent of the agricultural labor force. Supporting financial inclusion for women employed in the formal sector can help them invest their earnings in nutrition, health, and education—areas that women prioritize for spending—leading to social and economic improvements in their communities and countries.

“Disney’s social investments in programs like HERfinance are designed to address systemic issues in supply chains,” said Leslie Goodman, Senior Vice President for Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy at the Walt Disney Company.  “We are proud to support the initiative and global efforts to improve workplace conditions.”

In addition to Disney’s investment, contributing grants were made by General Electric Foundation, the Levi Strauss Foundation, Fung (1906) Foundation, Primark Stores Ltd., and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

About BSR
BSR works with its global network of nearly 300 member companies to build a just and sustainable world. From its offices in Asia, Europe, and North and South America, BSR develops sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration. Visit www.bsr.org for more information about BSR’s more than 20 years of leadership in sustainability.

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KEYWORDS: Finance & Investment, Reporting, Ratings & Rankings, HERfinance, BSR, Financial Inclusion, women, supply chain, global supply chains, GE, Grants

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