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Op-Editorial On Doral’s Support Of Female Entrepreneurship As A Community Economic Driver Featured On Yahoo! Finance



  Op-Editorial On Doral’s Support Of Female Entrepreneurship As A Community
  Economic Driver Featured On Yahoo! Finance

Business Wire

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- October 23, 2013

An Op-Editorial titled: Investing in Women: Financial Empowerment as a
Community Economic Driver, by Doral’s SVP of Marketing, Public Relations and
Community Lucienne Gigante, has been featured on Yahoo! Finance. The
Op-Editorial discusses how financial institutions, such as Doral, can play a
role in fostering and advancing female entrepreneurship in their respective
communities.

By year end 2013, Doral will have invested over $3 million in targeted
initiatives and financial mentoring that support the professional and
entrepreneurial development of women. Over the last two years, through Doral’s
flagship community program, Mujeres De Exito (Successful Women), more than 30
new women-owned businesses have been formed and over 100 jobs created.

The Full Text of the Op-Ed:

Investing in Women: Financial Empowerment as a Community Economic Driver
By Lucienne Gigante

In the early 2000s Marisol Santiago from Villalba, Puerto Rico, was gainfully
employed in the healthcare industry, providing for her family while investing
in her future. However, following the onset of the global recession, which
still plagues Puerto Rico, Marisol was laid off from her job. A single mother
of two, she took on three part-time jobs to support her children to make ends
meet. With a small loan from a community bank, Marisol was able to launch a
pharmacy of her own. Now a thriving business, her company has expanded to
include an infusion center, creating new growth niches in Puerto Rico and
abroad.

In many areas, low-interest loans for women like Marisol — loans that so often
make the difference in a family’s future — are difficult to secure. But in
Puerto Rico, where unemployment hovers above 13 percent, Doral Bank has
spearheaded a program, in alliance with the respective communities that it
serves and the non-profit sector, to bring about new strategies that are
spurring employment growth.

These initiatives are focused on providing the requisite financial support and
peer mentoring, so that women are propelled as drivers of economic growth. As
the Kauffman Foundation, which supports entrepreneurship and small businesses,
published in a recent report, “women entrepreneurs have the potential to make
even greater contributions to employment and economic development.”

Marisol’s loan was the direct result of these efforts. Over the last two
years, through the program, Mujeres De Exito (Successful Women), more than 25
women have been selected to receive capital and mentoring to expand their
businesses. This program has been successful in helping to create more than 30
new women-owned businesses and close to 100 jobs.

But the need for this financing far exceeds available funding; there is much
more work to do.

While the number of highly educated women — women with the potential to start
scalable ventures — has reached record levels, these women are not taking
entrepreneurial steps, or being exposed to entrepreneurial opportunities
through their limited networks. Indeed, the Kauffman Foundation has labeled
this decade as “the decade of the women entrepreneur,” noting that the
untapped entrepreneurial power of women “may be the nation’s secret weapon for
achieving sustained economic growth.” Lesa Mitchell, Vice President of the
foundation, enforces that point: “As more women engage as entrepreneurs to
build on their discoveries, new jobs and economic prosperity will follow.”

Unfortunately, Marisol’s desire and ability to secure low-interest financing
is neither typical across the United States nor in Puerto Rico, where men have
historically overshadowed women in business development and entrepreneurship.
Indeed, in the U.S., less than 5 percent of venture financing goes to
women-owned businesses, according to the Kauffman Foundation. And in Puerto
Rico, where women significantly outnumber men as recipients of bachelor’s
degrees, only about one in 100 women own their own businesses. As a recent
study commissioned by Dell Inc. points out, access to affordable financing is
crucial for the success of female entrepreneurs, as even in countries where
women have ample access to a bank account, venture capital funding is still
low.

The Mujeres De Exito program is grounded in the belief that this imbalanced
reality stunts the Puerto Rican economy as a whole. The tides are now slowly
turning on the Island. While male participation in the workforce declines, the
female segment is significantly increasing, and one in every three households
on the Island is now financially led by a woman. With proper financial support
and mentoring, these women and the communities that they support stand to
accelerate their progress, gaining in leaps and bounds.

There are millions of bold and ambitious women like Marisol in communities
across Puerto Rico and the United States who deserve a more supportive hand.
Financial institutions can play a vital role in this effort. If fostering
entrepreneurship and advancing women are made distinct priorities at the local
level, women will be empowered to take action, rebuilding communities one
household at a time.

To link directly to the Op-Ed, please visit
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/investing-in-women--financial-empowerment-as-a-community-economic-driver-214119424.html

To learn more about Doral’s community initiatives, please visit
http://www.doralbank.com/en/community/doral-community-involvement.aspx

About Doral

Doral Bank is a leading community bank based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Doral
serves its customers both in Puerto Rico and in the US mainland. On the U.S.
mainland, Doral has branches in Florida and New York and its national online
bank, Doral Direct. Doral Bank is a member of the FDIC and a wholly owned
subsidiary of Doral Financial Corporation (DRL).

Contact:

Doral
María M. Rodríguez Matienzo
787-474-6497
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