The development of any society relies on access to financial services. These services help in facilitating investments in education, health, security and business. But many people in Uganda still have limited access to financial services for varied reasons. Women form a large portion of the Uganda’s unbanked population. They are less likely to own a mobile phone, be active users of mobile money (38 per cent of men use mobile money versus 25 per cent of women), have a bank account, save or borrow money and understand financial services.
According to a World Bank report (Global Findex database) released in 2017, Uganda is making progress towards financial inclusion for all. 69 per cent of the global adult population has a formal account with either a bank or a mobile money service provider - an improvement from the 2014 report which put us at 51 per cent.
The report also indicates that there was an increase in women account holders – from 58 per cent in 2014 to 65 per cent in 2017. Despite these achievements, the global financial inclusion gender gap in developing countries still remains large. The gender inequalities in places of work and earnings mean that women have lower incomes which can be a hindrance when trying to open up an account in a formal financial institution. Women have less access to education and productive resources than men and while they take on a great fraction of the world’s work, especially in agriculture, they still earn little from it.
This has a direct bearing on women’s empowerment – financial or otherwise in Uganda. dfcu Bank has been working to promote sustainable, innovative and scalable financial solutions that focus on women’s strengths. Through our Women in Business programme, we give free advisory services to women to widen the economic opportunities available to them, as well as design financial products for them to be able to save, borrow and insure the development and expansion of their businesses.
Women entrepreneurs are important to our economy and we cannot afford their under representation among Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Some of the reasons why some women-owned businesses fail to emerge from the microenterprise level to become SMEs include; access to education, the business environment, access to social services and most importantly access to finance.
In Uganda, this is one of the reasons women are now forming up or joining Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations to improve their chances of access to financial services and credit. Through our Investment Clubs programme, we have also seen an increase in the number of all-women Investment Clubs.
Real empowerment starts with access to information and knowledge. To address the knowledge and skills gap, we run capacity-building sessions throughout the year. To date, more than 20,000 have benefitted from this and we look forward to making more possible for women! To join the programme, visit any dfcu Branch or call us on 0800 222 000 for more information.
Victoria B. Byenkya is the manager of Women in Business at dfcu Bank.