Recently, Dar es Salaam had the honour of hosting 2017’s Making Finance Work For Women Summit. The summit was held on the 25th and 26th of October. Prominent decision makers were in attendance discussing the role of women in technology, policy, design and innovation. Many other important aspects of women’s financial inclusion were discussed at the event as well. In the wake of the 21st Century, one of the highlights of the summit was Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion.In Tanzania, Digital financial inclusion is on the rise owing to benefits like ease of use, faster transactions and transparency of payments. Now more than ever, Tanzania is awake in this digital financial inclusion journey, especially with mobile payments. Statistics show that 63% of adults own mobile phones which creates a ready platform for the progression of digital financial services.
The Making Finance Work For Women Summit facilitated discussions on the contribution of women in the digital financial space as women remain to be underprivileged sex. “If women were to participate in the economy as men do, the global economy would increase by $12 trillion”, Vice President Mama Samia Suluhu said at the summit. Financial inclusion is a critical tool in eradicating poverty and achieving economic growth. In Tanzania alone, 60% of the women live in absolute poverty. Globally, about 55% of the women lack a bank account and 14 percent of the women are less likely than men to own a mobile phone. Digital financial inclusion stands the chance of changing the status quo.
The summit attendees have taken a lead role in engaging women in the journey to financial inclusion. During the summit, Visa made a $20 million pledge towards Women’s World Banking.The grant will be used to assist enterprises that are owned and operated by women. Mastercard also has been actively ensuring low-income women are not left behind in the digital financial inclusion scope. The company has partnered with Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) in Nigeria to assist 1500 female entrepreneurs by providing them with technology and skills-enhancement programs. “Level the playing field and watch women compete”, Omokehinde Adebanjo Vice President & Area Business Head for West Africa, MasterCard added during the sessions in the summit.
The state of digital financial inclusion is a product of proper policies and strategies made by financial service providers and bodies like Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) and Bank of Tanzania (BOT). In Tanzania, women financial inclusion efforts are evident, financial service providers like National Microfinance Bank (NMB) and Tanzanian Women Bank are making an effort to improve the design of the financial products to suit women and assist with financial literacy. The discussions in the summit were concluded with thoughts on whether to use gender-specific solutions to economic problems, measurement of how to track the efficiency of these inclusion efforts as well as working hand in hand with abled bodies such as the government to ensure no one gets left behind.