The United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DfID) has appointed Diamond Bank Plc, NBS Bank of Malawi, and National Microfinance Bank (NMB) in Tanzania, to manage $7.1 million (N1.1 billion) dedicated to bringing 1.3 million people from sub-Saharan Africa into the formal financial services sector.
This is being done through DfID’s programme, Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSD Africa), in partnership with a non-governmental organisation, Women’s World Banking (WWB), THISDAY has learnt.
Over five years, DfID will provide $7.1 million 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 FSD 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.
According to him, "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. While disproportionately underserved, women are the strongest potential clients for financial institutions with historically higher savings and loan repayment rates. 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.”
On his part, UK Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, said: “Working in partnership with WWB and commercial banks will allow us to provide over one million women across Africa with the financial services they need to thrive. Investing in women is hugely powerful. We know that when a woman generates her own income she reinvests 90 per cent of it in her family and community. Women are an engine of growth and no country can fully develop unless women are economically empowered as well as men.”
Napier added: “Access to financial services in Africa is persistently worse for women than it is for men. FSD Africa is absolutely committed to doing what it can to close this gap which is why the partnership with Women’s World Banking, with its decades of experience in promoting innovation in financial services for women across the globe, is so exciting. FSD Africa is proud to be able to support this significant step-up in WWB’s involvement in Africa.
“Besides support for bank-level organisational change, the partnership also incorporates a major knowledge sharing component. The partnership will be a conduit through which WWB’s decades of research and product implementation experience across the world can be introduced into sub-Saharan Africa.
“FSD Africa and Women’s World Banking will work together to develop and influence policy across Africa in order to raise awareness of the role of women as drivers of economic change and managers of household security as well as the market opportunities to serve women clients”, he added.