Financial Inclusion – Make financial inclusion the priority, or, to put it in simpler terms, concentrate on ensuring financial inclusivity. According to a recent investigation, financial products and services are not accessible to and underutilized by 50% of the global population. Despite considerable progress made in promoting financial inclusion for both genders during the period of 2011 to 2014, the difference in access to financial services and products between men and women remains.

The essence of “inclusion” lies in facilitating and granting access to financial services at reasonable prices to all individuals, thereby acknowledging it as a fundamental human right. Although it may appear simple, unfortunately, it is not that effortless.

Introduction – Financial Inclusion

The questions that keep emerging in my mind are: Will rising innovations in the mobile money domain help to close the financial gender gap? or/and will it help to help women in particular who are more vulnerable to increased financial burdens, like the ones that arise when sick-minded men abandon their responsibilities of providing basic needs for their families? The problem is compounded by largely closed-minded, oppressive societies that bar women from owning land or properties or even allowing them to save for their future and their children, etc. The question stands: where do these people go to claim their basic rights that have been left behind by communities, segments, and formal financial institutions?

In Africa, one out of every two individuals lacks the ability to avail financial services. Individuals who do not have access to banking facilities have no option but to use physical currency, even though there is a significant danger of being subjected to theft while carrying it.

A recent survey conducted by my self along with my colleagues involving interviews with a representative sample of women in Sub-Saharan Africa and East Africa revealed that mobile money usage is a matter of grave concern. Our intention was to promote understanding through the message, “Join me in supporting Financial Inclusion for the attainment of our fundamental human rights.” Are you on board?

Ongoing endeavors aim to enhance financial inclusion by integrating a significant segment of the financially marginalized population, with the goal of fostering sustainable economic development. There are several obstacles that prevent the unbanked from accessing financial services, such as banks charging exorbitant fees, demanding extensive KYC documentation, requiring additional funds for international transfers, long distances to access banks, prolonged waiting times, and costly service charges.

Gender Inclusion To Promote Financial Inclusion

My main objective is to promote and drive “gender inclusion” through financial inclusion under the ownership of savings, land, or micro-insurance such as funeral, education, and medical services, where women in African homes play a very important role, by allowing women access to financial services and to fully benefit from economic opportunities. The confidence placed in financial inclusion by providers and users alike is a powerful driver for the business. Mobile money was essentially meant for financial inclusion, or simply “finclusion.

A gender-gap polarized environment impacts performance due to the denial of services to women, although there has been a large female youth segment that has demonstrated an increased appetite for new products and services in line with global trends. Financial services have the ability to provide access to microcredit, microinsurance, cross-border remittances, and education on savings, which explains clear benefits such as financial inclusion and ripple advantages such as access to clean drinking water, clean toilets, education, medical services, funeral services, and energy services.

The value proposition of women’s financial inclusion with clear objectives and quantitative targets can lead to transparent inclusive policies for women, which can greatly impact the advancement of financial inclusion for women and in turn help accelerate the progress of national strategies. With the different platforms and competencies that exist within FinTech, which have the ability to blend data together, this is helpful. Will rising innovations in the mobile money domain help to close the financial gender gap? This question has yet to be answered.

Nigeria and South Africa are better at giving women the rights they deserve than the DRC or Kenya. This phenomenon can be compared with almost all advertisements depicting a clock standing still in one place, such as ten minutes past ten,” as it is most appealing to human minds. Giving the best and largest space for advertisements to be displayed clearly if forty minutes past four is chosen will also give the same scope but not appeal well. So the requirement is what the needs are now, not a backward mindset.

Financial Inclusion – A Basic Human Right

Financial inclusion is simply defined as “ensuring access to basic banking services (provided by any bank’s banking services or MNO’s mobile money services)”. The definition continues that it is also expected from a finclusion service provider to ensure that consumers have a legal right of access to a basic bank or wallet account, comply with minimum performance standards, and treat customers fairly through functionality, charges, transparency, and compliance.

What are the major new areas of challenge for improving the quality of life for women with the help of FinClusion? Clearly, a huge investment is required by NGO’s or non-profit foundations in educating societies to correct their mindset and educating individuals to adopt financial services, specifically women. While significant progress has been made in terms of facilitating greater access to and use of financial services among previously underserved populations, barriers to financial inclusion remain.

Financial exclusion, in terms of lack of access to credit from formal institutions, is high for small and marginal farmers and some social groups. Apart from formal banking institutions, which should look at inclusion both as a business opportunity and as a social responsibility, the role of the self-help group movement and micro-finance institutions is important to improving financial inclusion. This requires new regulatory procedures and the politicization of the financial system, though Kenya is ahead of this particular game.

Technology Advancement 

Financial institutions that are making constant efforts to ensure that they provide financial services to everyone at an affordable rate and with minimal KYC needs have the support of the government, NGO’s, foundations, and regulators. Money transfers, payments, international remittances, savings, microcredit, and microinsurance services (medical, funeral, and education) should be at the top of the priority list on all developing countries government agendas.

Mobile money services from MNOs and FinTech companies are pushing this with the help of the concept “BaaS” (Banking as a Service) and “BaaP (Banking as a Platform), and not treating it as a luxury item should be seen as a noble effort and worthy of mention. Non-banks (now a few banks) are acting proactively not just to increase financial inclusion but also to reduce the dependence of monetary underprivileged borrowers on various informal sources of credit that are helpful and lifesaving.

The enthusiastic demand for financial services can be driven in a northward direction with great speed to push the boundaries of inclusion ever further, provided education of the same is delivered with the same speed.

The key stakeholders, which include financial service providers, regulatory bodies, policymakers, civil society entities, and consumers, explore how best to engage prospective women customers in ways that meet the needs of both consumers and providers situated within different market contexts. Financial inclusion is important for improving the living conditions of underprivileged farmers, especially female farmers, small business owners (tuck shops), and other vulnerable groups.

Finclusion’s gender gap, which refers to the disproportionate exclusion of women from access to and usage of formal financial services, is quite intense, especially in Asia and Africa. As they have a crucial role to play in supporting the development of financial systems that advance financial inclusion for women in Africa.

Banks need to think about collaboration rather than competition. Investments by banks, fintechs, and crowd funders help financial segments and sectors put the disruption at risk. What trends are expected to drive frantic innovation in 2017 both globally and in Africa? Digital delivery of financial services will continue to play a major role in bridging the financial inclusion gap in Africa, but along with the potential benefits, challenges such as a lack of collaboration and deliberate efforts to stop such excellent and genuine efforts will come, but eventually get crushed.


Conclusion – Dalai Lama noted “It’s been proven and shown that even infants who are too young to talk can distinguish between illustrations of harmful and helpful behaviour and respond positively to help and negatively to harm. They conclude that basic human nature is compassionate. And this gives us hope”. Equal access to and control over economic resources by men and women is a necessary condition to achieve gender equality.

Some of you may argue that it is a mere feminist demand but really economic empowerment of women is an essential condition towards sustainable economic growth and development. Even though the gender gap is huge but it is rarely on the agenda explicitly in the African countries policy sphere, there is room for much greater focus on women’s financial inclusion on a whole range of policy issues. Policymakers need to avail themselves of data, quantitative and qualitative surveys and further research to understand the market being served and the constraints, and thereby to inform policy.

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Posted by V Sharma

A Technology Specialist boasting 22+ years of exposure to Fintech, Insuretech, and Investtech with proficiency in Data Science, Advanced Analytics, AI (Machine Learning, Neural Networks, Deep Learning), and Blockchain (Trust Assessment, Tokenization, Digital Assets). Demonstrated effectiveness in Mobile Financial Services (Cross Border Remittances, Mobile Money, Mobile Banking, Payments), IT Service Management, Software Engineering, and Mobile Telecom (Mobile Data, Billing, Prepaid Charging Services). Proven success in launching start-ups and new business units - domestically and internationally - with hands-on exposure to engineering and business strategy. "A fervent Physics enthusiast with a self-proclaimed avocation for photography" in my spare time.

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