Women across the world, face a range of barriers in access to financial services. For instance, with limited property rights, women tend to own fewer assets than men. If you combine that with low levels of wages and labor force participation, women are often left with insufficient collateral to obtain credit.
In today’s increasingly interconnected world, linked by ever growing financial flows, more than a third of the global population is still financially excluded. It is an economic and a moral imperative that we reach them and empower them.
Nigerian Women and Financial Inclusion
The Federal Government through CBN recently launched a National Financial Inclusion Strategy to decrease the number of Nigerians without access to financial services from 46.3% to 20% by the year 2020. These developments present an exciting opportunity for women entrepreneurs to participate in the agent banking ecosystem that is being rolled out in Nigeria.
The program is aimed at recruiting and training 2,500 women entrepreneurs as mobile banking agents. With support from the Cherie Blair Foundation and First Bank Nigeria, YTF is providing the training and capacity building to give these women the tools they need to enter the financial services value chain. These women will offer branches banking and mobile financial services to Nigerians using the FirstMonie mobile banking platform indirectly impacting over 75,000 people.
In Africa and in many countries, like Nigeria, physical proximity to a branch is the most important barrier to financial inclusion. Access to financial services – whether in the form of savings, payments, credit or insurance is a fundamental tool for managing a family’s wellbeing and productive capacity.
The world’s poor need the stability and security that banks have traditionally offered, but increasingly they don’t need banks to provide it.
With an adult population of 84.7 million (only 30% of whom are banked) and more than 159 million mobile phone subscriptions, the Mobile Financial Services for Women in Nigeria program will empower women to gain access to basic financial services like savings, bank accounts, and credit. This will address income inequality, turn women into agents of economic development, and give rural communities the chance to participate in wider economies.
Nigerian women have no, or limited access to financial services for complex reasons spanning a wide array of cultural and economic issues. Consumers with no prior experience with financial services may not trust institutions with their cash. Access is hindered by a lack of infrastructure, information and inadequate customer service.
Our primary aim is to enable a greater number of women entrepreneurs to enter the electronic payment value chain in Nigeria – a sector that is set to grow tremendously in the coming months and years. We are confident the project will enable women entrepreneurs to become better linked with the financial sector and also provide them with the crucial training and capacity building support they need to build their businesses.
Access to credit is a key link between economic opportunity and economic outcome. By empowering individuals and families to cultivate economic opportunities, financial inclusion can be a powerful agent for strong and inclusive growth.
By bringing more women into the fold of financial inclusion, YTF’s goal runs parallel to that of the Federal Government, which recently launched a National Financial Inclusion Strategy. With ordinary Nigerian women acting to achieve the government’s goals by giving even more people access to financial services, the initiative will help rebuild trust between everyday citizens and public institutions.
In the Press
September 25, 2014. Guardian Agents of Change
November 17, 2014. Vanguard Visa Partners with Foundations to Promote Financial Inclusion