Paper

Bridging the Gap: Leveraging Village Savings and Loan Associations for Women’s Financial Inclusion in Yemen

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This paper relates to the CGAP working paper, From Crisis to Resilience: The Role of Inclusive Finance in Fragile Countries (May 2024). 

This research was commissioned by CGAP and carried out by DeepRoot Consulting to understand efforts by Yemen's Social Fund for Development, to leverage savings groups as an entry point for formal providers to reach underserved, rural, and female segments in Yemen amidst conflict and a contracting microfinance sector. Interviews and focus group discussions were carried out with over 100 participants.

Key research findings: 

  • In a highly restrictive gender norms environment, savings groups generate new spaces for women's financial participation through a holistic support package (e.g., training and enhanced social capital)—support often absent in formal financial models.
  • Formal financial products are likely to layer on top of holistic saving group services and other informal activity, rather than immediately replace them.
  • Consumers have unmet credit needs, but access barriers for women will be difficult for providers to overcome without support.
  • Providers are interested in leveraging savings groups as an entry point but progress on making linkages is nascent amid cost and access barriers.

The study suggests that organizations like SFD are crucial in bridging the gap between VSLAs and formal financial services, thereby enhancing financial inclusion in fragile contexts. 

Disclaimer

This work was commissioned by CGAP and funded in whole or in part by CGAP as part of its Inclusive Finance in Fragile Countries project. Unlike CGAP’s official publications, the viewpoints and conclusions expressed are those of the authors and they may or may not reflect the views of CGAP staff.