BusinessDay

98 percent of Nigerian women lack access to formal credit markets – Report

... as RPA advocates more inclusive financial services for Women

Despite the acceleration of financial services in Africa’s biggest economy, ninety eight percent of women still lack access to formal credit markets, according to a recent report by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisor (RPA)’s Gender Centre of Excellence.

The Gender-Disaggregated Data Analysis report launched recently in Lagos by the global foundation called for more inclusive financial services for Nigerian women.

The Gender-Disaggregated Data Analysis of the Nigerian Lending Market Report is a product of the RPR’s Gender Centre of Excellence (GCE) – a centre established with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to be a strategic resource centre and knowledge hub on advancing women’s financial inclusion in Nigeria.

As part of its key findings, the report reveals that 98 percent of Nigerian women are left out of formal credit markets due to their lack of trust in formal institutions, lack of awareness of credit products at-market, or the belief that they lack the qualifications for a loan.

In the same vein, the report identifies low education, limited decision-making power, and being in a rural area as some of the factors that exacerbate financial exclusion issues for Nigerian women.

Henrietta Bankole-Olusina, vice president, economic inclusion, RPA noted that the importance of the gender-disaggregated data analysis cannot be overemphasized because it takes a closer look at the differences between men and women’s access to finance and how these differences impact credit performances, financial inclusion and the country’s potential for growth.

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According to her, “Men and women have similar rates of formal borrowing. On the surface, this may suggest that men and women face similar preferences and challenges in accessing credit. However, the large gender gap in account ownership suggests that men and women do have different financial behaviours.”

“If gender is considered as the only differentiating factor between these consumers, there may be key characteristics that are obscured by gender, but that also affect access and use of financial services, particularly credit.”

This is the aim of the gender-disaggregated data analysis of the Nigerian Lending Market Report – to explore gender differences and access to finance as well as help breakdown the perception of women consumers as a monolith. It is our hope that the report will help promote financial and gender inclusion in Nigeria by highlighting opportunities to reach this promising segment.”

Delivering the keynote address, Bunmi Lawson, the managing director, EdFin Microfinance Bank, emphasized the urgent need to drive financial and economic inclusion in Nigeria, especially among women.

“Beyond financial inclusion, we must equally prioritise economic inclusion, as one cannot exist without the other. Efforts must be made to address the major drivers of financial exclusion such as lack of income and economic capabilities, lack of education and low trust in financial service providers,” Lawson said.

She noted that efforts to boost financial inclusion by policy makers and financial service providers must move beyond product innovation to addressing these underlying drivers of financial and gender gaps through more systemic collaborations between all stakeholders.

On the challenges faced by financial excluded women in Nigeria, one of the panelists, who has been a trader for over 20 years, Ms. Funke Fausat Olanrewaju, said that financial services providers need to come to the level of the excluded women, and speak their language (in terms of their literacy levels), to be able to earn their trust and recruit them.

“There is so much that can be done with financially excluded women. However, I believe that the starting point is to meet them where they are, constantly engage them in ways they prefer and understand and reduce the barriers they face including opening an account or even accessing loans.”

The event was moderated by Lehlé Baldé, award winning media professional and financial inclusion advocate.

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