- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
- Find Related Materials
- Princeton University. Library. Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
- Women's World Banking Records
- Public Policy Papers
- Permanent URL:
- 1964-2017 (mostly 1980-1996)
- 246 boxes and 144 items
- Storage Note:
- Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Boxes 1-230; 142A; 142B; 147A; 147B; 149A; 149B; 151A; 151B; 152A; 152B; 159A; 159B; 167A; 167B; 180A; 108A; 180B; 108B; 181A; 181B; 186A; 186B; 188A; 188B; 225B; 225A
Women's World Banking (WWB), one of the world's leaders in microenterprise financing, is a not-for-profit international financial institution founded by a global group of independent women working together with the support of the United Nations in 1979. The Women's World Banking mission is to facilitate the participation of poor women entrepreneurs in the modern economy at the local level, especially those who are generally without access to established financial institutions. The organization consists of an international network of affiliates (independent local institutions that provide a variety of financial and training services to meet the needs of local women) with a central coordinating office in New York City. WWB's records document the administration of the organization, mainly during the tenure of its first president, Michaela Walsh, and include founding documents, financial records, correspondence, records related to affiliates and other organizations, audiovisual materials, and the files of Michaela Walsh.
Collection Description & Creator Information
WWB's records document the administration of the organization, mainly during the tenure of its first president, Michaela Walsh, and include founding documents, financial records, correspondence, records related to affiliates and other organizations, audiovisual materials, and the files of Michaela Walsh. The records especially document the relationship between the New York City office and the affiliates.
Please see the series descriptions in the contents list for additional information about individual series.
- Collection Creator Biography:
Women's World Banking (WWB), one of the world's leaders in microenterprise financing, is a not-for-profit international financial institution founded by a global group of independent women working together with the support of the United Nations in 1979 to facilitate the participation of poor women entrepreneurs in the modern economy at the local level, especially those who are generally without access to established financial institutions. The organization consists of an international network of affiliates (independent local institutions that provide a variety of financial and training services to meet the needs of local women) with a central coordinating office in New York City. Through their work, WWB envisioned becoming a force for the economic advancement of women throughout the world, promoting economic development, fighting poverty, and, through facilitating women in taking leadership positions in their communities, changing the world.
The initial impetus for creating WWB came during the United Nations' International Women's Year conference in 1975, held in Mexico City. Attendees engaged in significant discussions about the economic problems faced by women. A small group of women resolved to create a practical way to improve entrepreneurial women's access to credit and financial services in their local economies, as well as support and training in management and business skills, to succeed in the formal economy. Over the next two years, this group of women grew and formally became the Committee to Organize Women's World Banking in 1977, a committee to establish the basic policies, procedures, and design of the organization. They studied a wide variety of traditional and alternative banking and credit programs before settling on the structure for WWB.
In 1979, they incorporated Stichting Women's World Banking as a not-for-profit corporation in the Netherlands. The founders were a diverse group of women from a range of backgrounds and countries. They received funding from the United Nations' Development Program to hold meetings throughout the world to explain their organization. In addition to support from the United Nations, WWB received initial funding from several governments. WWB is structured as an intermediary financial institution, cooperating with local banks and other financial institutions to provide credit and services to WWB clients. WWB operates as a business, not as a charity, finding financially sustainable ways to provide services to poor women.
WWB is governed by a Board of Trustees, a group of committed men and women from around the world who have achieved international recognition for their work in the fields of banking and finance, business, law, or community organizing. The Board manages the finances of WWB and approves its policies, strategies, and budget. An Executive Board, composed of members of the Board of Trustees, meets more frequently to review all aspects of WWB and to make policy and strategy decisions on behalf of the Board.
WWB maintains a central office in New York City with a staff of experts who serve as advisors, provide financial and business services, and coordinate the development of policies and best practices for the network. The office assists affiliates and potential affiliates in starting and developing their organizations and in program development. They provide prototype programs that affiliates can adapt to their needs, technical assistance through training, workshops and publications, and identify potential collaborators and resources available to the affiliate. As the communication center, the office mobilizes the knowledge of the network, sharing the knowledge, expertise, and experiences of individual affiliates and other WWB members across the network. The office is also the focal point for fundraising for the capital fund. WWB's capital fund serves as an endowment fund, its income funding the administration of WWB and providing a base for the loan guarantee program. The fund was created through the donations of several governments, foundations, corporations, and individuals.
The New York office is also the base of operations for WWB's president. The role of the president is to promote the vision of WWB throughout and beyond the network, and to ensure that the work of WWB is supporting WWB's mission. The first president of WWB was Michaela Walsh, a founder of WWB and one of the driving forces behind its creation. She came to the presidency with financial experience in both the private and public sector, including as a former partner of a Wall Street investment firm. Nancy Barry became the second president of WWB in 1990, after fifteen years working with the World Bank. She had served on the WWB Board of Trustees since 1981 and as its Vice Chairperson from 1988 to September 1989.
The central structure of WWB is the network of affiliates, which often take the name Friends of Women's World Banking. Affiliates are locally-established, women-led organizations located throughout the world, wherever the demand for services by poor women entrepreneurs is sufficient to support a business. Affiliates provide financial and training services tailored to best meet the needs of the women in their area. Most affiliates provide direct financial services, either through loans or loan guarantees. Many also collaborate with local banks to provide savings services for their clients, and some offer training and counseling services. To become an affiliate, the organization agrees to adhere to performance standards established by WWB, to operate in an ethical manner, and to contribute to the knowledge of the network. As part of the network, affiliates receive financial and business development products and services from WWB, and participate in information exchanges and workshops. Leaders from the affiliates are active participants in the annual meetings that determine the policies and strategies of WWB and serve on the Board of Trustees.
Affiliates are independent organizations and take a variety of structures, including trust funds, corporations, credit unions, and cooperatives. They are responsible for raising capital locally to fund their programs, establishing connections with local banks and businesses to facilitate their work, determining what services to offer, and choosing which clients to accept. Affiliates are diverse organizations, united by their shared goals and values, and by their focus on helping poor women enter the formal economy. By keeping the control of the organization at the local level, WWB is able to be flexible, adapting to the needs of a variety of regions, and to give the local people a stake in the organization, helping to motivate them to succeed.
At the time WWB was founded, a major hurdle for poor women was their inability to receive credit from established financial institutions because of social practices and the perception that they were too much of a credit risk, especially since many had no credit history. To counter-act this, one of WWB's first programs was to provide loan guarantees. WWB guarantees 50% of the loan and the affiliate guarantees another 25%, leaving the local bank with only 25% of the risk. Through this program, WWB encourages banks to work with network members and clients, enabling women to receive loans from local banks and establish their credit. In addition to providing access to the funding to start or expand their businesses, WWB also began providing technical and management training and a global support network to help their clients succeed. WWB also began working with governments, foundations, and financial institutions to change laws and business practices that restricted women's abilities to participate in the formal economy.
During the 1980s, the economy became more globalized and more commercial banks began providing micro-credit and loan guarantee programs due to the profitability of the emerging market. In response, WWB expanded their strategies to extend their influence beyond the affiliate network, although providing access to credit and the loan guarantee program remained important. In addition, WWB resolved to strengthen the existing affiliate programs to include a broader range of services, to use the world-wide recognition of WWB to facilitate collaboration within and beyond the WWB network to encourage investments in women's enterprises, to create prototype programs demonstrating ways to help women develop viable businesses, and to improve the confidence of businesswomen through training and by providing opportunities for them to learn about and meet successful women entrepreneurs.
During the 1990s, WWB became increasingly involved in leading work to create policies, regulations, and legal structures at the country and international level needed for financial systems to work for the poor majority, particularly women, and continued its efforts to build the institutional structure required to support a robust microfinance industry. During this period, WWB also began to expand its network to include institutions other than the affiliates. Beginning in 1997, WWB allowed other microfinance institutions (MFIs) to participate in the education and policy change activities of the network without becoming affiliates. Although not led by women, these MFIs shared important values with WWB and the core of their client base was poor women. Their relationship with WWB was formalized in 1999 as associates, making them eligible to receive services from WWB as well as participate in their education and policy change initiatives. WWB expanded again in April 2001 when they launched the Global Network for Banking Innovation in Microfinance (GNBI), with twenty-one founding financial institutions. The network meets to establish best practices and new products and improvements for the microfinance industry, as well as encouraging commercial banks to enter the microfinance sector by demonstrating the opportunity for profit.
As of 2006, WWB continues to be a network of organizations that offer services to poor women, enabling them to have access to the modern economy. The Global Team in New York, supporting affiliates and associates in their work as MFIs and as agents for change, offers services in four main areas. Members of the Global Team and WWB Talent Bank (experts from throughout the world) offer technical services, advising member organizations on strategies for building and strengthening their institutions, and on designing and implementing new products and processes. WWB continues to offer financial products and services to its members as well, including the loan guarantee program and the Affiliate Capitalization Facility. Established in 1997, the facility provides grants to high performing affiliates to enable them to expand. WWB is also still active in its efforts to influence policy changes to transform financial systems to benefit the poor, and to expand knowledge throughout the network, facilitating collaborations between members with workshops, exchanges and partnerships, and through producing and disseminating information on innovations and best practices in the field of microfinance.
This collection was donated by Michaela Walsh and Stichting to Promote Women's World Banking in November 2002 . Additional accruals were recieved in 2009 , 2011 and 2012 with accession numbers ML.2009.011, ML.2011.017, ML.2011.036, ML.2012.004, ML.2012.017 and ML.2012.041.
An accrual of oral histories was sent in June 2013. The accession number related to these materials is ML.2013.015.
Three cartons of videotapes were sent in May 2013, with accession number ML.2013.014. Additional audio and video tapes that comprise Series 15 and 16 were donated in 2014. The accession numbers associated with these donations are ML.2014.005 and ML.2014.008.
The materials that comprise Box 226 (Series 17) were also donated in 2014. The accession number associated with this donation is ML.2014.046.
The materials in Boxes 227-228 (Series 18) were donated in 2015. The accession number associated with this donation is ML.2015.017.
The Michaela Walsh materials in Box 229 were donated by Michaela Walsh in September 2017. The accession number associated with this donation is ML.2017.027.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
Duplicate materials, personal documents, and office receipts have been separated from this collection.
These records were processed with the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund. The following donors supported the digitization of 40 boxes of early (pre-1990) WWB records: William H. Bohnett; Margaret Catley-Carlson; Patricia M. Cloherty; William M. Dietel; Virginia and William Foote; Donald, Arvonne, and Thomas Fraser; Elizabeth McAllister; Robert and Sarah McClanahan; Marion A. Monheim; Dr. Elizabeth Mary Okelo; Linda Schoenthaler; the Family of Martha Stuart; Barkley Stuart; Margaret Snyder; and Michaela Walsh.
- Processing Information:
This collection was processed by Adriane Hanson, Christopher Shannon, and Hannah Wilentz in 2006. Finding aid written by Adriane Hanson in September 2006. Additional donations in 2009-2017 were processed by Mudd Library staff. Digital materials in Series 7 were processed by Elena Colon-Marrero in July 2015
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
Any meeting minutes received from WWB in the future will be restricted for 20 years after the date of their creation. Additionally, materials in Boxes 1-14, Boxes 27-33, Boxes 62-72, Boxes 102-108, Boxes 113-116, Box 122, Boxes 134-136, and Box 229 are out for digitization and are not currently accessible. The remainder of the collection is open for research use.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, any copyright vested in the donor has passed to Princeton University and researchers are free to move forward with use of materials without anything further from Mudd Library. For materials not created by the donor, where the copyright is not held by the University, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. In these instances, researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.
- Special Requirements for Access:
Access to audiovisual material in this collection follows the Mudd Manuscript Library policy for preservation and access to audiovisual materials.
This collection contains 3.5 floppy disks. Researchers are responsible for meeting the technical requirements needed to access these materials, including any and all hardware and software.
- Credit this material:
Women's World Banking Records; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library65 Olden StreetPrinceton, NJ 08540, USA(609) 258-6345
- Publication Note:
The following sources were consulted during preparation of the organizational history: "Business People; Helping Women Abroad Get Started in Business," by Daniel F. Cuff. The New York Times (Late Edition (East Coast)), November 13, 1990. "Development Bank Puts Women in Business Around the World," by Carol Kleinman. Chicago Tribune, October 21, 1985. Materials from Series 1: Administrative and Series 6: Walsh, Michaela Files; Women's World Banking Records; Public Policy Papers, Special Collections, Princeton University Library. "Women and Development: Women's World Banking," by Nancy Barry. WIN News, vol. 24, issue 2, Spring 1998. Women's World Banking website, http://www.swwb.org. Accessed September 26, 2006.
- Subject Terms:
- Banks and banking.
Economics -- 20th century.
Financial institutions, International.
Microfinance -- Developing countries.
Women -- Developing countries -- Economic aspects.
Women -- Economic conditions -- 20th century.
Women-owned business enterprises -- Developing countries.
- Genre Terms:
- Administrative records.
- Women's World Banking