No part of the world has been spared the COVID-19 economic saber, but the MENA region is suffering from a double-edged sword: the pandemic and persistently low hydrocarbon prices. Despite the recession specter, many banks, both central and private, are doing what they can to minimize the damage for citizens and businesses. Confronting the challenges, they are finding new opportunities, primarily through digital means, to improve their operations and reach.
Despite claims from bankers to the contrary, data confirms that a gender-financing gap exists, especially in MENA countries, generating a drag on their economies. Female entrepreneurs are often more successful than their male counterparts but face more barriers to credit. The data highlights the problem but also the opportunities that banks are needlessly missing by not working more closely with female entrepreneurs, who have proven they are good for business.
China’s Silk Road was for centuries an invaluable network of trade routes connecting Eastern and Western Eurasia. Now, in the 21st century, it has been resurrected in the form of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Despite suspicions about the motives behind the ambitious project, no one would deny the magnitude of China’s sweeping plan for infrastructure and economic development in more than 150 Eurasia countries. But can it pull it off?