women in Sub-Saharan Africa

Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment Mapping Tool: Spotlighting Opportunities for Impact in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where women make up the majority of entrepreneurs. But, delve a little deeper and you will find that women face steep social and economic barriers to growing their businesses. While access to finance is the key constraint, they are also much more likely to be hindered due to household responsibilities and are less likely to have the market skills to advance their businesses. Removing these barriers could unleash a huge opportunity for women entrepreneurs and boost economic growth in the region.

The European Investment Bank (or EIB) launched the African Women Rising Initiative (AWRI) to support women’s economic empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa by identifying effective environments for growth, increasing access to finance, and supporting women entrepreneurs in selected countries. The AWRI aims to strengthen women-led or -owned businesses through designing holistic, market-oriented programs, bolstering business skills, and developing gender intelligent financial services.

As a first step for the AWRI, ConsumerCentriX (CCX), as part of the Consortium with German-based technical advisory group IPC and African Management Institute (AMI), set out to identify the strongest opportunities for impacting women entrepreneurs in Africa. CCX conducted a comprehensive mapping exercise that assessed the current state of financial inclusion for women, women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment initiatives, as well as innovations in financial technology, and digital banking. Based on this exercise, the team identified countries in the region that have substantial gaps in gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, however, their macro and social environments could enable a financial sector intervention that fosters progress. 

Mapping Methodology

Women entrepreneurs are not evenly distributed across Sub-Saharan Africa. The region is made up of 48 countries at varying stages of development and some places offer a more conducive environment for women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses with the support of formal financial services. In order to better understand women’s financial and economic inclusion opportunities, we created a scoring system based on 65 publicly available indicators from sources such as the Global Findex[1]. Not all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were surveyed by the Findex which limited the comparable data, but in many cases, other indicators were able to be substituted from other sources like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Economist Intelligence Unit, as well as Citibank and Mastercard data that illustrate macroeconomic, demographic, political-regulatory, and socioeconomic dynamics within each country. Additional sector-specific datasets contributed a broader understanding of the stage of development and inclusiveness of the financial sector. We then ranked each country according to their stage of development as indicated by the gross national income (GNI) per capita and compared them based on the indicators.

The indicators were categorized into four overarching themes that tested each country’s receptivity to potential financial inclusion efforts based on their legal or socio-cultural constraints and women’s access to finance. The categories included:

  1. Enabling Environment: Provided a snapshot of each country’s development stage by assessing the general economic and demographic environment through indicators like conflict, debt, GNI per capita and GDP, and population characteristics;
  2. Women’s Inclusion and Human Capital: Assessed women’s socio-economic position including factors that influence their productivity and opportunity to build capital;
  3. Women’s Entrepreneurship: Analyzed the ease of doing business in each country and women’s typical role within the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector; and
  4. Financial Sector: Focused on the availability of financial services through different channels, the regulatory environment, and the sector’s inclusivity and capacity to serve entrepreneurs with financing.

Ultimately, the CCX team created an effective tool that swiftly facilitates benchmarking of countries in Africa (and beyond) for our work on impact consulting in women’s financial inclusion and entrepreneurship support. Additionally, the tool includes permanent links to the respective databases utilized for the mapping exercise.


During the mapping exercise, 19 countries were immediately omitted from the selection process based on insurmountable obstacles to a long-term technical assistance engagement like extensive violent conflict and significant debt distress. Countries with extremely small populations were also not carried onto the shortlist due to their lack of scalability and potential impact.










In order to narrow the playing field even further, we categorized countries in Sub-Saharan Africa into five groups based on their development stage. Each country was ranked according to threshold criteria against peer countries within each group. Countries were excluded from consideration if the socio-economic challenges or gender gaps they were facing could not be realistically addressed with financial inclusion or women’s economic empowerment initiatives. To advance to the next round, countries needed to score 60-70% on average across all indicators when compared to the top country within each group.

Countries that met the threshold had significant room for improvement in women’s entrepreneurship and inclusivity in the formal financial sector that could be addressed by the areas intended for the AWRI technical assistance, namely empowering women entrepreneurs and creating gender-intelligent and innovative SME financing solutions. In other words: these countries indicated a substantial potential for growth compared to their best-in-class African peers, while also presenting a sufficiently conducive environment for impact through the AWRI support.

Based on this scoring system, a shortlist of 16 countries qualified including Benin, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda.

EIB selected Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda were selected as the four finalists. These countries have healthy percentages of  SMEs t

hat are women-led or -owned, have financial institutions with existing relationships with EIB that are interested in better serving women entrepreneurs, show strong potential for growth with existing conducive regulatory and social environments and/or the opportunity to leverage digital channels to deepen financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment.

Below is  brief overview of the four finalist countries:

  • Côte d’Ivoire is the business hub of French-speaking West Africa with strong prevalence of private business and self-employment with an established financial sector, fast-growing microfinance activity and strong digital uptake;
  • Rwanda has high women’s labor force participation (84%) and a supportive public sector, a national financial inclusion strategy and investment climate which offers strong opportunities for digitization;
  • Senegal is a majority Muslim country that has a relatively high degree of gender equality in early-stage entrepreneurship, with a high share of female entrepreneurship and strong remittances which could serve as a source of funding for women business owners; and
  • Uganda is an attractive market for business investment given its stable economy, large market, and the size of its labor force with a financial inclusion strategy that is generally supportive of women’s economic activities.

The mapping exercise was successful in identifying countries in the region that are more favorable to women’s economic inclusion and empowerment and serves as a useful tool for understanding country contexts in the financial sector in other regions throughout the world.

Women in Sub-Saharan Africa face universal constraints as entrepreneurs and EIB’s AWRI program will now support organizations that can increase women’s financial inclusion by developing quality programs involving access to finance, training and other non-financial services to support woman entrepreneurs’ growth.

[1] The Global Findex is a publicly available data set on how adults save, borrow, make payments and manage risk that is published every three years by the World Bank. Data is collected in partnership with over 140 economies through nationally representative surveys.

Supporting Women Entrepreneurs

The Stanbic Business Incubator enables women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential as business owners

By Ana Singh, Communications & Marketing Manager at ConsumerCentriX
 ConsumerCentriX works closely with Stanbic Bank Uganda on both the COVID-19 Business Info Hub and the Stanbic Business Incubator. This article originally appeared on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

Through business development services, training, networking events, and mentoring, the Stanbic Business Incubator offers an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs to protect and grow their businesses. The incubator also provides participants with opportunities to engage with subject matter experts and access markets and finance. By joining the Stanbic Business Incubator, women entrepreneurs can take advantage of opportunities that they may have not otherwise had.

Hudah Tamale is no stranger to pivoting. When she began her business in 2015, she thought she could make money selling cakes. To attract new customers, she started offering herbal teas as a marketing strategy. However, she soon found herself becoming more excited over her tea products. After recognizing where her true passion lay, she shifted her business strategy and started focusing entirely on selling tea.

When the COVID-19 lockdown began, Tamale found herself needing to pivot her business, Nash Royal Tea, again. With social distancing measures in place, she needed to rely more heavily on digital marketing strategies. Luckily, she had already learned many of the skills that she would need through the Stanbic Business Incubator.

Today, she has a digital marketing strategy incorporated into her business plans and maintains an active online presence that has helped her through the pandemic. For women entrepreneurs struggling, she stresses the importance of digitizing. “If you don’t have an online presence right now, you are almost nonexistent in business right now,” she warned.

Women entrepreneurs in Uganda and worldwide have had to face a rapidly changing business environment while still taking care of their children full-time once the schools closed. Even in regular times, women entrepreneurs face well-documented barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Men are more likely to have the right information, training, and guidance to inform their dealings with financial institutions and plan effectively for their businesses in the long-term.

Through business development services, training, networking events, and mentoring, the Stanbic Business Incubator offers an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs to protect and grow their businesses. The incubator also provides participants with opportunities to engage with subject matter experts and access markets and finance. By joining the Stanbic Business Incubator, women entrepreneurs can take advantage of opportunities that they may have not otherwise had.

“Women entrepreneurs are a great resource to this country from our training we have come to realize that women play a very vital role in how enterprises are run and how enterprises are actually sustained over a long period of time. Our commitment to the support of women especially the women entrepreneurs is one that we cannot deviate from. We have for a long time decided to have a quota set for women entrepreneurs to be able to see them participate and enjoy the benefits of our training program. our commitment, therefore, is not a one-off intervention. Many women have been part of this whole story especially after the realization that the lockdown or COVID was going to impact many businesses for a long time. We’re certain that we can be very much in partnership with a lot of women entrepreneurs to scale them to further their dreams.”  said Tony Otoa, Executive Director, Stanbic Business Incubator Limited.

Meet Rachel Lubega

When she heard about the incubator from a friend, Rachel Lubega had already co-owned her corporate event business, Quality Management Services LTD, for 18 years. However, despite the longevity of her business, she believed she still had room to grow. “I felt excited because I love learning, getting training, and gaining new skills,” she said.

As part of the training, she joined a cohort of service providers that included some of her competitors. Through networking and personal bonding, she began to see her competition as potential business partner. “We even were able to get business together. It was great having to create that kind of relationship with our competitors,” she added.

Not only was she able to create business opportunities through networking, but she became more adept at auditing, bookkeeping, and digital marketing. To the benefit of her business, she transferred many of these new skills she was learning to her employees.

Like Tamale, Lubega found particular value in the seminars on digital marketing. “At the time, we had the website, but it wasn’t very active. But now I know the importance of having an active website.” She added that implementing digital strategies and maintaining a web presence has made a beneficial difference for her business during the pandemic.

As businesses across Uganda adjust to the “new normal”, so has the Stanbic Business Incubator. “We have had to rethink our program, going away from the typical classroom lecture mode into online tutorials and lectures,” said Otoa in a recent interview. He added that the shift made entrepreneurs hopeful because of a shared need for information on financial management, governance, and other issues critical to business survival in an economic downturn.

Participants are still able to network at the Incubator even though the classes are online.

“They introduce themselves at the start of every session and are given provision to state what each of their businesses is about, share experiences, and share their contact information with other participants,” said Nadia Ayaa, Program Coordinator, Stanbic Business Incubator Limited.

The switch from a classroom setting to online tutorials also creates more flexibility for women entrepreneurs, who often balance household responsibilities and business ventures. Instead of going to a classroom, they can access the training at the comfort of their home or office.

For more information about the Stanbic Business Incubator Limited, please call
0312 226 700

Women Entrepreneurs

How the SME Response Clinic addresses gender information asymmetries

By Ana Singh, Communication & Marketing Manager at ConsumerCentriX and Ida Ingabire, Secretariat at New Faces, New Voices Rwanda

Investing in women’s entrepreneurship is good for business and essential for socio-economic growth. Women are more likely than men to invest a higher proportion of their income back into their families and communities; yet, most women-owned businesses across Africa remain stagnant at the micro-level, unable to grow.

The reasons holding them back are well-documented. First, women are less likely to access sufficient financing to grow their businesses, greatly hindered by challenges due to information asymmetries that put them at a distinct disadvantage to their male counterparts. In comparison, men are more likely to have access to the right information, training, and guidance to inform their dealings with financial institutions and plan effectively for their businesses in the long-term.

During “business as usual,” information asymmetry makes it challenging for women entrepreneurs to keep up. During a global pandemic, when updates related to financial products or services and government measures are issued multiple times a day, the information gaps can become even more unbalanced – leaving women entrepreneurs even further behind.

In late March, our team recognized the hardship that all entrepreneurs were facing when finding the right COVID19-related information for their businesses. After noticing there was no centralized platform that housed all the crucial updates happening across Rwanda’s private and public sectors, the SME Response Clinic platform was launched to address this gap and support entrepreneurs with relevant information. ConsumerCentriX, in partnership with Access to Finance Rwanda and the Private Sector Federation of Rwanda, created the website.

After reviewing data of the SME Response Clinic platform’s performance from the first few weeks, the team immediately recognized a gender problem when it came to web traffic. Only 30 percent of all visitors were women. Read this article to learn how we closed the gap. Only 30 percent of all visitors were women. Through further examination and analysis, it became apparent that the gender gap in web traffic was a symptom of the gender-neutral content and promotion of the platform on social media.


Recognizing a Problem 

As a new platform beginning with zero followers, we relied heavily on an aggressive social media strategy. We launched a Twitter campaign and regularly targeted users on Facebook who exhibited entrepreneurial behavior and interests.

However, this social outreach strategy was not reaching women. For Twitter, a look into the data revealed that a staggering 93 percent of accounts using the campaign’s hashtag were men. While the gender gap on Facebook wasn’t as stark, men were still 73 percent more likely to see an advertisement and 80 percent more likely to engage with the content.

Two possible explanations shed light on our limited initial success in reaching women entrepreneurs in Rwanda. First, women in Rwanda are less likely to have access to phones with the internet and are less likely to be digitally literate than their male counterparts. Web traffic data indicates that roughly 80 percent of the SME Clinic website’s visitors access content through a mobile phone – putting women at a clear disadvantage.

The second barrier was the content itself as there was no particular gender lens in our early articles and videos. Instead, by producing only gender-neutral content, we were exacerbating the existing information asymmetries. We knew that we had to urgently switch up our strategy to reach women entrepreneurs with the right information to support their businesses throughout the economic downturn.

Mobilizing women entrepreneurs to access the right information for their businesses

In this video, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Governor of National Bank of Rwanda and Chairperson of New Faces, New Voices Rwanda, and Ida Ingabire, Secretariat of New Faces New Voices Rwanda, explain the barriers women face when accessing information for their businesses and how SME Response Clinic can bridge that gap.

Developing Content through Partnerships

To create more compelling and meaningful content for women entrepreneurs, the SME Response Clinic partnered with New Faces New Voices Rwanda. From their own experience engaging with women entrepreneurs, New Faces New Voices emphasized the importance of making information available online and the necessity of mobilizing women to access the knowledge through a personal touch.

Though the partnership with New Faces New Voices, the SME Response Clinic delivered new content specifically for women entrepreneurs. Once finalized, we promoted on Facebook, specifically targeting women users who exhibited entrepreneurial interests.

However, to be seen as a platform that women could trust required a more involved personal touch. We decided to produce a Facebook event specifically for women entrepreneurs. The event allowed women entrepreneurs to ask high-level government officials, including Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, a Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, and private sector leaders about new government measures in place to support their business survival and growth.

While previous events hosted by the SME Response Clinic were held in English, the decision was made to have the conversation in Kinyarwanda at New Faces New Voices’ recommendation. By using the native dialect of Rwanda, there was a shared goal to make the event more accessible for women entrepreneurs, particularly those at the micro-level.

To increase attendance, New Faces New Voices reached out directly to their member through phone calls, bulk SMS, email and WhatsApp group messages. This outreach effort then turned into technical assistance support during the event, as staff helped users who were having issues accessing the live stream video. In the end, the panelists’ star power and the hard work of the organizers paid off. Even though only women received promotions for the event, the total number of users who viewed the live session outnumbered the turnout of our previous events on Facebook Live.


Final Thoughts

The event’s success meant that for the first time since the launch of the website, we were able to achieve gender parity in our weekly visitors. In the weeks and months following the event, we have learned that we can continue to achieve parity in weekly visitors if we publish content and produce events specifically for women. If we do not publish this targeted content, the gender gap returns without fail.  While this overall shift in strategy requires more work and depends on successful external partnerships, women entrepreneurs’ benefits are too significant to ignore. In the coming months, the SME Response Clinic will continue to engage women entrepreneurs with events and relevant content for their businesses.

Financial aid for Women entrepreneurs

Breaking Down Bias and Increasing Financial Access in Central Asia for Women-Led SMEs

Breaking Down Bias

and Increasing Financial Access in Central Asia for Women-Led SMEs

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) enlisted the services of ConsumerCentriX to conduct market assessments in Mongolia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The findings determined key constraints faced by women-led SMEs when it came to accessing finance and recommendations on possible measures that would mitigate systemic barriers. In this video, Benedikt Wahler, Partner of ConsumerCentriX, discusses the role unconscious bias plays in constraining access to finance for women-led SMEs in all three countries.

Moroccan Women in Business

Moroccan Women in Business: Market Research & Segmentation


Moroccan Women in Business: Market Research & Segmentation

(Intro)  Those women running formal companies are really kind of survivors. They have defied the odds. And how that shows up then is that in many aspects they are, at least as I’d say, stereotypically male as a lot of the men.

– Benedikt Wahler, Partner  at ConsumerCentriX

Ana Singh: Through funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, ConsumerCentriX undertook a large-scale field research in Morocco, surveying more than 800 male and female entrepreneurs in a nationally representative sample to thoroughly understand the needs, priorities and constraints of business owners with regards to running their businesses and their finances. This ultimately enabled a three-level analysis. First, a mapping of the entire market and a comparison of current offers by banks. Second, an identification of relevant gender-differences that banks could respond to in their non-financial and financial services, and finally a detailed segmentation of female entrepreneurs.

 In our second podcast, Benedikt Wahler, Partner at ConsumerCentriX, and István Szepesy, an Associate Consultant, will share key insights learned from this project as well as a few surprises that turned up in the research and segmentations. So, to start off, Benedikt, can you share the main objectives of this particular project? 

Benedikt Wahler:  The objective was essentially twofold. On the first hand, it was about making sure that we have a very thorough and nuanced understanding of the Moroccan markets market when it comes to female entrepreneurs. We can build strategy; we can build product innovation and a communications strategy that would really resonate with those female entrepreneurs that in the end were intended to be targeted. 

The second objective was really to bring the conversation with executives, in this case at banks, bring that conversation onto a factual basis. Because one thing that we’ve encountered a lot is that when the topic is women – it’s a little bit like football. Everyone has an opinion. But that opinion, normally, isn’t far away from stereotypes. And if you do not have solid information you can confidently point to and base your decision making on, then the stereotypes are going to carry the day and are going to carry us into the direction of the pink credit cards and other solutions that we know do not work well.

Ana Singh: What were you hoping to accomplish when you created a gendered comparison of Moroccan entrepreneurs?

Benedikt Wahler: The real question, if the charge is to build out a gender-intelligent finance solution, is to understand where differences between men and women exist that are relevant in the finance context –  that are persistent and wide ranging enough to really merit a dedicated approach. Merit that you have a conversation with bank executives around “you guys need to be changing this because it really doesn’t work with women, even though it might work with men.” So, at the very least, the logical starting point then becomes I need to survey or speak to not only women, but also men to have that gender comparison.

Ana Singh: István, after reaching that logical starting point that Benedikt just mentioned. What were the next steps in terms of research? 

István Szepesy:  First, there was very thorough secondary market research to get an understanding of the market.  And then with primary research, both quantitative and qualitative, to build a first-hand understanding of how the market is. In the quantitative approach, our key objective was to get representative data on the country level. Meaning that having enough respondents, both male and female respondents, that we could have a complex and reliable picture of the country as a whole, not just some random deep dives, based on interviews or focus groups. 

We put together a questionnaire which was built up by three different building blocks. First, the basic socio-demographic questions to get an understanding of who they are and then we wanted to understand also the entrepreneurial profile, based on values and attitudes and lifestyle questions as well – who they are as entrepreneurs and who they are as businessmen and women. So, the third block was more about understanding how banking and finances works for them.

Ana Singh: So, what did you learn?  

Benedikt Wahler:  I think what was really striking and shows the value of going to the making, the effort of such nationally representative research, was that really in some surprising ways there aren’t a lot of differences when we talk about formal women in business. Meaning those are the women who run businesses that are registered with the tax authorities, have all their paperwork in order and really are the finest of the crop in the country. Morocco isn’t an easy place to do business overall. It’s even much harder if you’re a woman. So, those women running formal companies are really kind of survivors. They have defied the odds. And how that shows up then is that in many aspects they are at least as I’d say stereotypically male as a lot of the men.

When you talk about female entrepreneurs in emerging markets, you very often hear “oh, but they’re more risk averse and they’re less educated and they’re not as interested in growing their business because they’re so busy taking care of the family.” And the nuance that this research really added is, yes, that tends to be true if your level of analysis is all of the 400,000 companies, including the many informal ones in Morocco. 

But if you zoom in to those who run a formerly registered business, which is really where the banks currently want to be focusing, where their starting point is. They don’t want, at the moment yet, to go after the informers. That’s a different conversation. So, if you start with the point of the kind of clientele to which banks are currently open,  then we find that actually the Moroccan female entrepreneurs who run such businesses are slightly better educated than the average men. That risk doesn’t scare them. It’s something that they’ve come to embrace. Growth is something that drives them. They more frequently actually than the men, they have entered business because of a sense of opportunity that they wanted to pursue. So, this exercise really brought us to an understanding that pointed us that in this sector, Morocco doesn’t conform to the stereotypes.

Ana Singh:  If the women-led formal SMEs were comparable with their male counterparts, why would banks need to create a separate approach to the women’s market?  

Benedikt Wahler: Interestingly, though, despite those commonalities, we still found that with regards to dealing with finances, there were important nuances that really should translate into the dedicated approach. Because on the one hand, having assets against which you can borrow is still a huge headache for them. And again, the typical pattern of women having much fewer such assets, meaning a piece of land, an apartment, a car, something of big value that banks are happy to lend against in their name is still much rarer in Morocco for female entrepreneurs than for male entrepreneurs. If they show up at the bank and the bank says, “happy to give you a credit, if you sign over, then your house as collateral.” That’s not something that they can realistically do.

And another aspect that always we found to hold also for these highly professional, business savvy women in Morocco, is that the way how their lives and what happens in them, whether it’s marriage, divorce, having a child, having to take care of elderly parents or in-laws much more strongly affects the way how they’re able to run their business and thereby their finances – by at least 20 percentage points. They’re more likely to say this affects me a lot. And that also shows up in how their finances react in such life situations when revenue goes down because you can’t run your business as effectively, cost out because, well, kids needs to be fed as well as elderly parents. If hospital costs and the cash flows overall go down. So banking relevant differences absolutely exist, even though a lot of commonalities and the picture is not one of the poor damsel in distress that needs your charity.

István Szepesy: They are still only 10 percent of the market. And that shows that there’s a much bigger obstacle in front of them to be successful. What was interesting to see is, however, the comparison of formal women versus informal women, where they are much bigger gaps.

Ana Singh: Thank you for bringing me to the next question. You guys created a very detailed segmentation of female entrepreneurs. What did you learn from it? 

Benedikt Wahler: You often hear said in an anecdotal manner that women are the less risky clients, the better at repaying keeping their obligations – seems to bear out. And we found a difference of 3.5 percentage points that women are more likely even if they come into financial difficulties, to keep up paying back a loan, stay in compliance with the obligations to the bank. 3.5 percent improvement on the level of an entire bank’s risk portfolio is already huge. But if we then zoom in on the seven segments that we’ve identified for business women in Morocco. All of a sudden, this 3.5 percent expands to 10.5 percent between the most risky segment and the one that’s most compliant, that always will try to keep up no matter how difficult the situation, keep repaying the loan. And a 10.5 percent at the level of a credit portfolio of a bank really is the difference between you are one of the most profitable in the market or you are  broke.

István Szepesy: So, what is isn’t also an interesting output from our segmentation is not only that we understand how these clusters look like, how many business woman do we estimate to be in each? But it also allows us, through using our methodology, to give a strong estimation on their business potential. We using multiple variables for this. We also calculate what we call an influencing index, which is using different variables to not only understand the potential within the segment, but also the aspirational and networking effects that each of the segments have. And from this perspective, what’s interesting is sometimes a segment which purely looking at their numbers might not seem that relevant. If you calculate this as well in they’d become was one of the most desirable segment potentially for banks.

Ana Singh: When it comes to creating a dedicated approach to the women’s market, how can you change the mindset of banks so they don’t revert back to those gendered stereotypes you mentioned earlier?

Benedikt Wahler: Getting the conversation towards the need for change is not an easy one to have. If you don’t have data. Now, the very interesting and relevant data and for that context were that common to men and women in Morocco, formal men and women. So, people were well educated who run their business in urban areas. They’re connected into life and business. They’re savvy. They’re very knowledgeable in a lot of ways.  But finance is not one of those ways.

 And actually, in a broader picture, the way how Moroccan banks are apparently doing banking as usual, SME banking as usual doesn’t work for men, just like women. So, it’s not women are the ones for whom we need to change this, but it’s rather if we change something and build a dedicated approach for women, it can serve really as a pilot for testing out ways in which Moroccan SME banking should change anyway because it’s not working for the entire market.

About half of men and women alike are currently what we would label business unbanked. Meaning their business finances remain purely in cash. Even for those who have a bank account in their name for private purposes, for instance, they don’t use it to do any of the business transactions. So, whether even with any account exists so formally, they are banked right there. They have a bank form for their clients. They’re currently not using that to run their business transactions at all.  The bank also doesn’t have a chance to ever see any of the business activity that go on in their accounts, try to analyze that for credit scoring purposes, for instance.

Ana Singh: How can stakeholders expand and deepen financial inclusion for Moroccan business entrepreneurs?  

Benedikt Wahler:  Well, if you’re a bank, the first realization is, of course, that your current SME banking as usual isn’t working. It’s not working for men and it’s not working for women. And one of the ways in which it should change that it starts working for women is to take off the focus, the almost exclusive focus on banking entrepreneurs that is on credit. 

Credit is something that is very important for the growth and development of their businesses. But it’s not something that’s top of mind. Actually, when we asked for the financial priorities of the entrepreneurs and again here the results for men and women were strikingly similar. Formal ones, who are really focused on their business, 92 percent and 93 percent came back with saying my top financial priority is protecting my family against emergencies. And only about 50 percent were answering that it’s important or very important to get a loan.

But currently, that’s what I said in banking and a lot of countries and also in Morocco focuses on. So, the way how to bring these clients who are currently not banking at all are very disengaged with financial services is to go after those things that really matter to them. And for entrepreneurs, that’s actually the way how they think about their finances. Private financial sphere and professional financial sphere are very closely linked. And if you want as a bank to more proactively engage women and have them understand that you are important part as a bank in how to run their lives and businesses, then credit is not the right way in. But all of these other things that start with putting some money aside every day, taking out some risk protection by insurance and helping her make her payments, helping solve the everyday business of her life will get her engaged will mean that money flows through the account.

You can collect data and then on that basis, you and that client can really start engaging the discussion around how a loan could help her expand what she has been working at so passionately. 

Anna Gincherman speaks at Financial Alliance for Women Annual Summit

Anna Gincherman to Speak at 2019 Financial Alliance for Women Annual Summit

Anna Gincherman to Speak at 2019 Financial Alliance for Women Annual Summit

Anna Gincherman, a Partner at ConsumerCentriX, will speak at the Financial Alliance for Women Annual Summit.  With the presence of bankers, policymakers, multilateral and bilateral representatives, academics, and other stakeholders, the Financial Alliance for Women Summit is the seminal and most comprehensive event for women’s financial inclusion in the world.

The 2019 Summit, “Building Resilience Through Inclusion,” will be held in Paris June 17-19 and is hosted by AXA.

Learn more about the event here