The Gender Centre of Excellence (GCE) at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors is a strategic resource centre that provides transformative solutions for unbanked or underbanked populations, particularly low-income women. In this Q&A, Loise Maina, gender lead for Nigeria at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, discusses the origins of the GCE and how financial inclusion can advance women’s economic empowerment in Nigeria and beyond.

Tell us about the Gender Centre of Excellence and its key areas of focus and objectives.

The Gender Centre of Excellence (GCE) is one of RPA’s newest initiatives. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GCE serves as a resource centre and knowledge hub for advancing women’s financial inclusion, with a significant focus on addressing the gender gap in access to financial services in Nigeria.

GCE implements initiatives around four key pillars. The first pillar is around capacity development, particularly efforts to understand gender norms and dynamics that may prevent women from accessing and using formal financial services. It’s worth noting that in 2020, Nigeria developed a national framework for advancing women’s financial inclusion, a robust document that outlines how various sectors can advance financial inclusion for unserved or underserved women. Capacity development support will enable the regulators, financial service providers, and other stakeholders to have the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively implement this framework.

The second pillar for GCE relates to data and evidence generation and finding ways to conduct deeper gender-focused analysis of existing financial information data to identify gaps and opportunities to improve women’s financial inclusion. This involves asking questions such as, what are the profiles of unserved and underserved women? What are their motivations? What barriers or challenges are they facing? What more can be done to deliver financial services and products that meet their needs? We are investing in this kind of analysis to ensure that key stakeholders including policymakers and financial service providers including product development teams have the right insights into where the gaps are and how to design products and services that are better tailored to the needs of low-income women.

Read the full article about financial inclusion in Nigeria by Caroline Suozzi at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.