Strategy to boost women's access to financial services

The National Microfinance Bank (NMB) has been picked by UK's Department for International Development (DfID) to increase women's access to financial services.

The move comes at the time authorities are struggling to cut down the number of unbanked population. Banks penetration is estimated at 14 per cent.

NMB is the largest bank in Tanzania in term of foot print and profitability. The programme, involves two more banks which are Malawi's NBS Bank and Nigeria's Diamond Bank. 

It wants the three banks to manage 7.1 million US dollars (about 11.4bn/-) and bring over one million people from sub-Saharan Africa into the formal financial services sector.

This is being done through DfID's programme, Financial Sector Deepening Trust Africa (FSDT Africa), in partnership with a non-governmental organisation, Women's World Banking (WWB). 

During her recent visit to Tanzania, UK's Secretary of State, International Development Justine Greening, said DfID will invest 4.4million pounds (11.4bn/-) through WWB to enable women to access financial services.

"Investing in women in this way is hugely powerful," Ms Greening said. "We know that when a woman generates her own income she re-invests 90 per cent of it in her family." 

She added: "Women are an engine of growth and no country can fully develop unless women are economically empowered as well as men." The programme planned to run for over five years.

DfID will provide the money to WWB to fund a collaboration that will generate funds not only for low-income clients, especially women, but also for the institutions that serve them and the markets in which they operate.

Director of FSDT Africa, Mark Napier, in a statement, said WWB would focus on Nigeria, Malawi and Tanzania to create financial services specifically tailored to the unique needs of women, including innovative savings products and rural credit.

He said: "The partnership allows Women's World Banking to expand significantly the scope of its existing relationships with Diamond Bank in Nigeria, NBS of Malawi, and NMB in Tanzania. 

"By developing a programme that is commercially viable and sustainable, this collaboration will particularly illustrate the social and financial benefits of serving the women's market."

Mr Napier said besides support for bank-level organisational change, the partnership also incorporates a major knowledge sharing component through WWB that has decades of experience in promoting innovation in financial services for women across the globe. 

According to the Minister of Industry and Trade, Dr Abdallah Kigoda, there are more than three million small businesses in the country of which 54.3 per cent of participants are women.

"This in itself testifies the ability of the sector in narrowing the women exclusion gap in economic activities," Dr Kigoda said in a forward note of 'Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Tanzania' report of 2012 prepared by FSDT.
Source: Daily News, reported from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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