Cooperative Financial Institutions - Center of Excellence

Calendar » Including women in Financial cooperatives: an uphill battle or good business? Sharing experiences from India, Albania and West Africa

Including women in Financial cooperatives: an uphill battle or good business? Sharing experiences from India, Albania and West Africa

Created by Baloko Makala
April 21, 2021 | 9:00 AM |

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

09:00 am -10:30am (EST)


Video Recording and other webinar material will be posted on the CFI website.

Subscribe to the next CFI Newsletter  to receive notifications about future events


About the webinar

As member-based financial institutions, governed by and for their members, often serving low-income segments in rural areas, Cooperative Financial Institutions (CFIs) are seen as key drivers of financial inclusion. However, as documented in the WB/Rabo Foundation in a draft discussion paper (attached), they often face challenges to include women in membership, in management and at the Board. Can CFIs play a role in closing the financial inclusion gender gap?

In this webinar, representatives from financial cooperatives networks in India, Albania and West Africa will share insights on the various ways to develop gender-sensitive approaches to better include women and will discuss the business case for such approaches. Based on the insights from this discussion, the draft discussion paper will be finalized and published.


Opening Remarks

Eleni Giakoumopoulos, Program Director, Global Women's Leadership Network, World Council of Credit Unions 

Giakoumopoulos has over 20 years of international experience working in 15 countries in western, central and eastern Europe. Her background includes managing European Union cross-border cooperation programs through consultancy work, membership recruitment for a national trade association, content development for print and digital media and directing career services at the American College of Thessaloniki, an educational organization in Northern Greece.  Prior to joining World Council as the Corporate Communications Manager in 2017, she was part of the board communications team at the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank, an international finance institution, working with ministries of finance and foreign affairs, supporting economic development and regional cooperation in the Black Sea region. Giakoumopoulos holds a master’s degree in global marketing from the University of Liverpool and speaks Greek. She has been in her role with GWLN since 2018.


Ndaya Beltchika, IFAD's Lead Technical Specialist on Gender, Targeting and Social Inclusion

Ndaya Beltchika is IFAD's Lead Technical Specialist - Gender, Targeting and Social Inclusion. Previously, Beltchika was Country Director in the West and Central Africa Division where she led the development of country strategies and provided oversight and coordinated programmes of loans and grants of Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone. 

Prior to joining IFAD in 2010, Beltchika worked for over 25 years in private sector development, policy dialogue, rural development and rural finance. Beltchika holds a Bachelor’s +1 in Agronomy from La Faculté des Sciences Agronomique de l’Etat à Gembloux, Belgium, a Master’s in Agricultural Economics from the University of California at Davis, California, United States, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Babson College F. W. Olin Graduate School of Business, Massachusetts, United States.










Mathieu Soglonou, Director General, Confederation of West African Financial Institutions (CIF)

Mathieu SOGLONOU is the Managing Director of the "Confédération des Institutions Financières d’Afrique de l’Ouest (CIF-AO)". Mathieu has over 20 years of experience in international development for reducing poverty and inequality, linked to national priorities with focus financial inclusion, agriculture, youth, women and girl economic empowerment, digital and Clean Energy.

Mathieu has track record in strategic advice and leading partnerships with Governments, Parliaments, Central Bank and Regional entities; and in project and programme management, especially in complex and demanding development situations in Africa







Chetna Sinha, Founder and Chairperson of the Mann Deshi Mahila Bank and the Mann Deshi Foundation.

Chetna Sinha is the Founder and Chairperson of the Mann Deshi Mahila Bank and the Mann Deshi Foundation.She has been awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar, India's highest civilian award for women who work in the area of women's empowerment. She is a member of the BRICS women's business alliance.  She has served as a Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum in Davos (2018), Switzerland and as a Co-Chair of Financial Inclusion at the W20 Summit (2018) in Argentina. 

Mann Deshi runs Business Schools, a Community Radio, and a Chambers of Commerce for rural women micro entrepreneurs. To date, it has supported over half a million women. 





Albana BETA, Head of Legal Department,  FEDInvest

Albana is the Head of Legal Department at FEDInvest, the first Microfinance Institution in Albania. She covers all legal issues of the institution such as: updating and compliance with the legal basis in force, legal assistance and advocacy for internal affairs to all other departments and branches of FED invest, following court proceedings, or other cases delegated from the CEO, etc.

She is member of National Chamber of Advocacy in Tirana, Albania from 2006 on. Her experience began in 2006 in Public Administration as a lawyer in Municipality of Tirana. Her practice focuses taxes and fees procedures, business registration cases, trademark cases and civil judicial litigations. She completed her studies at the Faculty of Law in Tirana on 2005 and later earned her Master's Degree from the same university in Business Law profile. 




Rachel Sberro-Kessler, Financial Sector Specialist, The World Bank

Rachel is a Financial Sector Specialist at the World Bank, working in financial inclusion, agricultural finance, digital finance, financial cooperatives and the financing of catastrophic risks. Rachel has advised Governments in Africa, Latin America and Asia in the design and implementation of public policies favorable to rural and agricultural finance. Prior to the World Bank, she also worked with the microfinance investment fund ResponsAbility and PlaNet Finance India. She holds a Master in Public Affairs from Sciences-Po Paris, an MBA from ESSEC Business School (Paris) and an Executive Certificate in financial inclusion from Harvard Kennedy School.






Rubiga Sivakumaran, Project Coordinator, Rabo Partnerships

Rubiga Sivakumaran is a Program Coordinator at Rabo Partnerships Advisory Services, a dedicated consultancy unit within the Rabobank Group focusing on capacity building of (rural) banks, Agri finance development, supply chain financing and cooperative development.   Rubiga first joined Rabo Partnerships in 2017, and holds a Master degree in Sustainable Business and Innovation from the University of Utrecht. Her working experience is largely geared towards cooperative development. Both with regard to producer cooperatives as well as financial cooperatives. She has working experience with cooperatives in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia