Giving Compass' Take:

• Dhruv Gandhi discusses the progress that has been made for financial inclusion for women and Africa and what can be done to improve the situation further. 

• How can funders best advance financial inclusion for women in Africa and elsewhere? 

• Learn about technologies for financial inclusion. 

Overall, financial inclusion in Africa almost doubled from 23 percent to 43 percent between 2011 and 2017, led by growth in mobile money adoption. East Africa led in mobile money growth, followed by West and Central Africa. Women’s financial inclusion saw especially significant gains with the number of accounts rising by 600 percent in Senegal and doubling in more established markets like Kenya, bringing Kenyan women’s inclusion close to 80 percent (Figure 1). As cited in the report, recent research in Niger showed that women who received government subsidies through mobile money instead of cash had greater power in household decisionmaking. Similarly, research in Kenya has shown that women-headed households that adopted mobile money saw an increase in savings.

According to the report, despite this significant progress, two challenges persist—namely, limited interoperability across digital financial service providers and an inability to prove one’s identity. A lack of interoperability across service providers limits who customers can transact with, leading to underutilization of these services. Further, this obstacle also leads to additional problems such as high conversion fees and having to travel long distances to convert digital money to cash. The report highlights the need for more for open-loop payment systems, recommends that governments improve the policy framework around digital payments, and suggests that donors provide greater technical assistance funding to support this transition.

Read the full article about financial inclusion for women in Africa by Dhruv Gandhi at Brookings.