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In the Asia Region, increasing women's productivity and earning potential is recognized as an important element in the Bank's efforts to promote sustainable growth and poverty reduction in borrower countries. The number of Bank projects providing enterprise development and financial services (EDFS/W) to women has grown markedly in Asia over the past decade. This paper offers an analysis of trends in the Bank's portfolio, provides illustrative project examples, and reviews strategies employed to improve the productivity of women entrepreneurs. The paper finds that the rapid growth of EDFS/W projects has been tempered recently by the lack of practical guidelines which would enable Bank Task Managers to translate the policies spelled out in Operational Directive 8.30 into specific project activities. The role of transparent time-bound subsidies and possible institutional arrangements involving the government, nongovernmental organizations and self-help groups are examined within this context. This study contributes to the Bank's internal dialogue on design options for such projects and provides a statistical summary of project design trends. The paper concludes with recommendations for improved Bank project design in terms of women clients' access and based on a business-oriented approach to the provision of enterprise development and financial services.

Publisher: World Bank

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