Making Women’s Work Visible: Finance for Rural Women

Designing financial products and services for rural women

This study presents findings useful for institutions interested in expanding credit and finance to rural women. It is based on a project initiated by Women’s World Banking (WWB) in 2011 to develop financial products for women in Latin America with a goal of reaching 24,000 new clients by 2014. The project involved WWB partnering with three institutions that saw rural women as an opportunity in an untapped market segment: Interfisa Financiera (Paraguay), Caja Arequipa (Peru), and Fundación delamujer (Colombia). Evaluation of the project suggested that rural loans should be tailored to rural families and the success of a loan product in urban areas does not guarantee that the same offering or methodology will fit in a rural context. Key findings include:

  • Staff training must go beyond credit analysis;
  • Distribution channels are critical to reach scale for rural financial products;
  • Besides credit, women want a full suite of financial products and services;
  • Institutions should gather and use data to adapt and make adjustments to reach targets;
  • Word-of-mouth and targeted community marketing are most effective methods of attracting rural clients;
  • Having an institutional culture that values rural women as clients is critical for the success of a financing program for rural women.