(This blog post was originally published on the CGAP blog.)
Please tell us a bit about the Arab Women's Enterprise Fund (AWEF)
AWEF was a 5-year project funded by DFID and established in 2015 to increase economic opportunities and benefits for 150,000 poor women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
FINEQUITY - What does your organization do and how does it relate to women’s financial inclusion.
BRETT MATTHEWS - My Oral Village is trying to redesign the retail interfaces of financial inclusion – including the digital services – to make them usable for illiterate and innumerate adults. Currently, many of these people can access such interfaces, for example by giving their PIN number to a family member and having them do it. But they can’t use them without help.
FinEquity Member SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW with Grace Majara Kibombo of CARE USA
FINEQUITY - Please tell us about the work that CARE does, especially as it relates to Women’s Financial Inclusion.
The growth of FinTech and the stagnancy of the gender gap in financial inclusion has brought about new and creative approaches to using technology to improve women’s access to financial services. We’re also seeing more financial and technical support being offered to FinTechs to focus on this subject. In this webinar, we talk to two organizations - DFS Lab and UNCDF - who have recently organized competitions around women-focused FinTech, and discuss the sustainability, expectation and stimulus of such initiatives.
Around the world, increasing numbers of people are gaining access to bank accounts and other formal financial services. 515 million more people had access in 2017 than three years before, according to Global Findex. The population excluded from the formal financial sector fell by a third from 2011 to 2017: from 2.5 billion to 1.7 billion in just six years.
Last month, Sarita took one step closer to financial independence: she learned how to use digital financial products at a training session in her district of Nagpur in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Though she owned a basic mobile phone, she had never used it for a financial transaction. But with the nearest bank 10 kilometers away from her village, and no easy way to get there, Sarita was excited by the idea of using digital services to bank right from her doorstep. She was also circumspect. “I don’t have a smartphone and don’t know how to operate one.
Whether they are smallholders who grow cassava at home, or entrepreneurs running agro-processing plants, women in agriculture are consistently left out of the formal financial system. According to Global Findex, 58% of women worldwide had an account in 2014, compared to 65% of men. The gender gap in financial inclusion widens further in rural areas, with rural women more excluded from financial services than their urban counterparts.