Disrupting The Gender Divide: The Power of Online Platforms

Online platforms are increasing economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs around the world, and World Bank/IMF Spring meetings featured two women who are creating successful businesses through the power of digital technology. Taking the stage at the Thursday’s event, Wafaa Al-Ashwali and Honey Ogundeyi discussed how they overcame barriers to grow their online businesses and shared ideas on... view more


An Introduction from World Bank President Jim Yong Kim highlighting the important role technology and digital inclusion can play for women in boosting female entrepreneurship and economic inclusion as well as the current factors leading to a digital divide between men and women across the globe.


Hear from Oyindamola Honey Ogundeyi, Founder of, a Nigeria based online platform which helps global buyers discover high quality made in Africa products created by female artisans, about her journey to overcome barriers to grow her online business and share ideas on how to help women entrepreneurs succeed in the digital age.


Join a panel conversation to hear how we can all work to create a framework that can enable jobs, growth, and empower women in developing countries. This short bite includes introductions of the four panelists Jean Liu, Anne M. Finucane, Ulla Tørnæs and Stephanie von Friedeburg.


Join part two of the panel conversation and learn about the role of WEFI in addressing the issue of gender and inclusion, the role of the private sector in improving access to capital for women, the changing startup landscape in China to promote increased female inclusion, and how economic empowerment for women can translate into improved safety and empowerment for women.


Join the panelist for a Q&A session including what advice they would offer to break through the initial funding process for female led enterprises using digital technologies, how to build a community of trust online, and what advice they would offer to burgeoning female entrepreneurs.

About the Presenters

Jim Yong Kim

Jim Yong Kim, M.D., Ph.D. is the President of the World Bank Group. Soon after he became president in July 2012, the organization established two goals: ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity for the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries. In September 2016, the World Bank Group Board unanimously reappointed Kim to a second five-year term as president, beginning July 2017.

Kim's career has been focused on health, education, and delivering services to the poor. Before joining the World Bank, he served as President of Dartmouth College and held professorships at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. From 2003-2005, as Director of the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS Department, he led the "3 by 5" initiative, the first-ever global goal for AIDS treatment, which helped to expand AIDS treatment in developing countries.

In 1987, Kim co-founded Partners In Health, a non-profit medical organization now working in poor communities on four continents. Trained as a physician and an anthropologist, he has received several awards, including a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, and recognitions such as one of America's "25 Best Leaders" by U.S. News & World Report, and in 2006 TIME magazine named him as one of its "100 Most Influential People in the World."

Wafaa Salem AlAshwali

CEO and Co-Founder, Serviis, Saudi Arabia

Wafaa Alashwali is the CEO and Co-Founder of Serviis, a digital marketplace for service providers that connects customers with various professionals from small businesses and freelancers. Before founding Serviis, Wafaa had more than 11 years of experience in the private sector in Saudi Arabia. Her latest position before founding Serviis was Chief Support Services Officer at AlMuhaidib Contracting Company which is one of the leading Companies in contracting sector in Saudi, in that role Wafaa led impactful initiatives such as work automation and manpower management optimization to increase productivity, reduce idle time, and hence, maximize the utilization of human resource asset in a company with 14,000 employee undertaking mega construction projects scattered around the country. Wafaa has master’s degree in business administration and BA degree in computer science from King Abdulaziz University.

Anne M. Finucane

Vice Chairman, Bank of America, United States

Anne M. Finucane is vice chairman at Bank of America and a member of the company’s executive management team. She is responsible for the strategic positioning of Bank of America and leads the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts. As part of this, she focuses on the company's outreach to shareholders on social and governance issues, implementing innovative ways to deploy capital and expanding on our environmental business opportunities in support of our responsible growth strategy. In addition, she oversees public policy, customer research and analytics, global marketing and communications. Finucane was recently named chair of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Europe, pending regulatory approval.

Finucane chairs the global ESG Committee at Bank of America, which directs all of the company’s ESG efforts. She stewards Bank of America’s $125 billion environmental business initiative, including its $10 billion Catalytic Finance Initiative to mobilize market capital to deliver new investment into high-impact clean energy projects. She oversees the company’s $1.6 billion Community Development Financial Institution portfolio and chairs the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, including its 10-year, $2 billion charitable giving goal.

Active in the community, Finucane serves on both corporate and nonprofit boards of directors including Carnegie Hall, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the American Ireland Fund, CVS Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Partners Healthcare, and Special Olympics. She served on the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy board and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Finucane has received numerous professional and public service accolades. Most recently, she was named to Fortune’s Most Powerful Women List, Forbes’ Most Powerful Women List, and AdWeek’s 2016 Power List: Top 100 Leaders in Marketing, Media & Tech. In 2013, she received the New York Women in Communications Matrix Award and the International Women’s Media Foundation Leadership Award. She was named the 2013 Advertising Woman of the Year by Advertising Women of New York, and American Banker magazine annually names her as one of the “25 Most Powerful Women in Banking.”

Jean Liu

President, Didi Chuxing, China

Jean Liu is the President at Didi Chuxing, the world's leading mobile transportation platform based in China. Jean joined DiDi in July 2014 from her previous position as Managing Director at Goldman Sachs (Asia).

In 2017, Jean was named one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time, one of the world’s Most Powerful Women by Fortune, one of the world's Most Powerful Women in Tech by Forbes, one of the Top Businesswomen by Forbes China, an Asia Game Changer by Asia society and topped the Nikkei Asian Review's list of Agents of Change. She was selected on the Recode 100 list and Leaders League's Seven Powerful Women in Finance list. Together with Cheng Wei, founder and CEO of DiDi, she was also selected on Time's 20 Most Influential People in Tech list, Vanity Fair's 2017 New Establishment list and Fortune's 40 under 40 list. She was selected as a Co-Chair of the Summer Davos.

In 2016, Jean was featured in the Financial Times’ Women of the Year list. She was also selected as one of the Most Powerful Women International and the Most Powerful Women in China by Fortune. In the same year, she was recognized as one of the World’s Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, and one of the 25 Geniuses Who Are Creating the Future of Business by Wired. In China, the China Entrepreneurs Magazine included her on its Business Women of the Year list. Jean ranked alongside Cheng Wei on The Wired 100 List and Vanity Fair's 2016 New Establishment list. In the same year, she was named as one of the "50 Most Powerful Moms" by Working Mother.

In 2015, she was one of Fortune’s top five 2015 global 40 Under 40 business leaders, and topped Fortune’s 2015 China 40 Under 40 business leaders list together with Cheng Wei. Jean was also named one of China’s 25 Most Influential Business Women by Fortune and was one of China’s Most Influential Women by Women in China. In 2013 and 2015, she was named one of China’s Top Women Business Leaders by China Entrepreneurs Magazine.

Jean is a member of the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Alumni Association Council, and a member of the Board of Directors of ONE Foundation. Jean earned her B.A. from Peking University and her M.S. from Harvard University, both in Computer Science. Jean currently lives with her husband and three children in Beijing.

Oyindamola Honey Ogundeyi

Founder of, Nigeria

Ogundeyi is passionate about using technology to uplift Africa. A serial technology entrepreneur and Founder of, an ecommerce platform for African Fashion. The platform connects global buyers to small and medium sized fashion brands and artisans across Africa. She is widely recognised as the pioneer of fashion online retail in Nigeria and is one of the Luminaries Shaping Africa’s Technology Sector.

An internet and brand management expert with over 10 years leadership experience from various industries ranging from management consulting, banking, e-business and telecoms. She was previously Industry Manager at Google, where she was led the development and growth of their commercial business. Before joining Google, she worked at Ericsson as Head of Brand Management for Sub Saharan Africa and prior to that worked in consulting at McKinsey & Company in Brussels and Johannesburg.

In 2018, Ogundeyi was appointed to Facebook SME Council for Nigeria. In 2016 She was listed by the World Economic Forum as one of the top 10 innovators in Africa as well 10 most influential young Nigerians under 40 in Technology. In 2014 She has was listed by Forbes as one of the Top 10 women emerging entrepreneurs to watch in Africa. She has also been recognised as a One Young World Ambassador, a Junior Achievement Nigeria Ambassador and mentors and leads various women in tech initiatives.

She is a graduate of the University of Birmingham, where she received a Bsc Honours in Public Policy, Government and Management. Ogundeyi is passionate about using technology to uplift Africa. A serial technology entrepreneur and Founder of, an ecommerce platform for African Fashion. The platform connects global buyers to small and medium sized fashion brands and artisans across Africa.S he is widely recognised as the pioneer of fashion online retail in Nigeria and is one of the Luminaries Shaping Africa’s Technology Sector. Honey is an internet and brand management expert with over 10 years leadership experience and has worked across Europe & Africa for Google, McKinsey & Ericsson.

She is a graduate from the University of Birmingham.

Ulla Tørnæs

Minister, Development Cooperation, Denmark

Ulla Tørnæs has a degree in Business Administration in English and French from Copenhagen Business School. University-level studies in Chambéry, France, and at the Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen.

Minister for Development Cooperation since November 2016. Minister for Higher Education and Science from February to November 2016. Minister for Development Cooperation from 2005 to 2010. Minister for Education from 2001 to 2005.

Member of the European Parliament for the Liberal Party from 2014 to 2016. Member of the Danish Parliament from 1994 – 2014. Political spokesperson for Venstre, the Danish Liberal Party from 1998 to 2001. Member of the management committee of the parliamentary group of the Danish Liberal party from 1994 to 2001.

Stephanie von Friedeburg

Chief Operating Officer, International Finance Corporation

As the Chief Operating Officer for IFC, Ms. Stephanie von Friedeburg leads all IFC investment operations and advisory services, delivering private sector capital and solutions to create jobs, positive development outcomes, and opportunities in the world’s poorest and most fragile countries. In addition to overseeing new business, she manages IFC’s $55 billion debt and equity portfolio across 104 offices.

Ms. von Friedeburg began her World Bank Group career at IFC, spending more than two decades in IFC investment operations where she developed strong regional expertise in Africa and Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in numerous industry sectors, including telecom, media, general manufacturing, and technology. With extensive experience in business development, transaction execution, and portfolio management, Ms. von Friedeburg has helped deliver significant private sector impact in emerging markets, including the growth of mobile throughout the developing world and IFC’s first large financings in Russia and Eastern Europe in the post-Soviet era.

Most recently, Ms. von Friedeburg served as IFC’s Chief Strategy and Resources Officer, where she led the development of IFC’s new strategy and aligned the organization’s resources in support of it. Prior to this, leveraging her more than ten years of experience investing in telecom and IT start-ups in emerging markets, she served as the World Bank Group Chief Information Officer, fundamentally transforming the IT organization to equip the World Bank Group to fight poverty in the 21st century.

Ms. von Friedeburg is an advocate for the advancement of women and a champion of diversity and inclusion, serving as Co-Chair of IFC‘s Diversity & Inclusion Council, and founding women’s networks at two international finance institutions.

Ms. von Friedeburg holds a seat on the Global Business Initiative External Advisory Board for Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, as well as on the CIO Advisory Board for Greylock Partners. She is Director Emeritus of the Board of the Bank Fund Staff Federal Credit Union.

In addition to an MBA from the Wharton School, Ms. von Friedeburg holds a Master of Arts from the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania and an undergraduate degree from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Simon Hobbs


Simon Hobbs is an award-winning, British-born journalist best known for working for CNBC Business Television for 18 years, first in London then at the New York Stock Exchange.

Arriving at CNBC USA in 2009, Simon provided extensive coverage of the European debt crisis across the network and presented ‘Executive Vision’ sponsored by Credit Suisse. He went on to co-anchor its 10am show ‘Squawk on the Street’ and 11.30am ‘European Market Close’ for 5 years, whilst also establishing the network’s Travel & Leisure reporting beat.

Before that at CNBC Europe in London, Simon anchored ‘Today’s Business Europe’, co-anchored ‘Squawk Box Europe’ and in 2003 switched to afternoons to anchor ‘European Closing Bell’ and ‘Europe Tonight’.

In 2007 AIB awarded Simon 'International TV Presenter of the Year’. And went on to create 66 episodes of the globetrotting interview series ‘The Leaders’.

Simon is a seasoned conference host and has travelled the world hosting live events for BT Global, Royal Dutch Shell, various UN agencies and the European Union.

Simon recently became an American citizen and currently lives in Los Angeles.