First Women’s Bank launches in US with focus on female business owners

A new commercial bank in the US is aiming to be the first and only women-led and women-focused lender operating in the country.

First Women’s Bank CEO, Marianne Markowitz

First Women’s Bank, founded in 2019 and headquartered in Chicago, opened its first branch last month after gaining final approval from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in July.

It is the first new bank to be chartered in Illinois since 2010 and raised an initial $30 million through a group of 200 investors, including Tennis star Billie Jean King.

The bank selected Fiserv in October last year to cover both core banking and front office digital engagement.

President and CEO, Marianne Markowitz, leads First Women’s Bank. She served as acting administrator of the Small Business Administration under former US president Barack Obama.

Markowitz also worked as national government lending director for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) at its Chicago office.

According to American Express data, women lead 42% of all businesses in the US, but receive 16% of conventional business loans.

Statistics from the National Institute of Women Business Owners (Nawbo) show female business owners in the US employ more than nine million people. They also generate $1.7 trillion in sales.

Despite this, one third of women say access to funding is the biggest barrier to starting a business, compared to 20% of men.

“Women represent a large, powerful and growing part of the economy, and they are demanding a different banking experience,” Markowitz said at the bank’s founding in 2019.

“It’s time for a bank that prioritises connection, solutions and responsiveness.”

The bank’s chief risk and chief technology officer is Maria Tabrizi, who spent almost five years at MB Financial Bank as senior vice president, and 22 years before that at Cole Taylor Bank.

Its chief credit officer is Daniel Konwent, who has worked at Radius Bank, HomeStar Bank, First Midwest Bank, and Charter One Bank covering commercial loans.

“First Women’s Bank is truly taking a tremendous step forward in the fight to empower and uplift women,” says Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, on the bank’s launch.

“In order for our city and economy to be at its strongest, residents from all walks of life must have equal access to opportunity and capital.”

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