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Empowering Women, Transforming Societies in Africa

As we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, we can’t help but reflect on the transformative power of investing in women, particularly in Africa. Empowering women can lead to a positive ripple effect that benefits not just their families but their entire communities. When women are financially empowered, they tend to reinvest a significant portion of their income back into their families and communities, contributing to the local economy and creating job opportunities. Studies show that globally, women invest 90% of their income back into their families, compared to only 35% for men. This highlights the transformative power of investing in women and the potential it has to stimulate economic growth and transform entire societies.

Despite the progress made in recent years, there is still a long way to go in achieving gender equality in Africa. Many women still face significant barriers to financial inclusion, whether it’s due to cultural norms or legal restrictions. One of the most significant barriers to financial inclusion for African women is the lack of access to formal financial services. According to the World Bank, only 37% of women in sub-Saharan Africa have a bank account, compared to 48% of men. This is partly due to the fact that many women work in the informal economy and do not have the necessary documentation to open a bank account. Apart from the lack of tailor-made financial products for women and women-owned businesses, women are also less likely to be approved for loans or receive credit. This can make it difficult for women to start businesses or invest in their futures.

Looking forward

There are many inspiring stories of women who have benefited from financial inclusivity. One such story is about Ester, an Uber driver in South Africa whom we recently met while travelling. As a single mother, she had a tough time making ends meet. However, things improved when she made the decision to start working as an Uber driver. Initially, like many drivers, she rented a car. But slowly, through responsible borrowing and paying her loans on time, she built up her credit score. As her credit score improved, she became eligible for credit options with better terms and rates, which ultimately enabled her to buy her own car. After our short trip, we couldn’t help but think about Ester and how her story mirrored that of thousands of other women in Africa.

Ester’s story is a testament to the power of financial inclusivity and its potential to empower individuals and communities. It is inspiring to see how access to financial services can make a real difference in people’s lives, particularly those who may have been excluded from traditional financial systems in the past.

Let us continue to work towards achieving gender equality and empowering women, not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.