The study commissioned by the Washington DC-based think-tank Center for Global Development, which covered Tanzania and Indonesia, made comparisons with past days when the women entrepreneurs’ earnings tended to end up in family expenditures, leading to the collapse of their ventures.
It pointed to a large and unexplored demand for mobile saving platforms which play a great role especially for women.
“The emergence of digital channels is seen as the best alternative for closing the gender gap in accessing financial services,” said Mayra Buvinic, a senior fellow at the Center who conducted the research in Tanzania.
It is estimated that over one billion women across the world lack access to financial services due to economic and social barriers, time and mobility constraints, and discrimination.
According to the study findings revealed yesterday, mobile savings reduce transaction costs, provide privacy, and increase economic self-reliance for women who are good at saving.
About 4,000 women micro-entrepreneurs operating in Dodoma and Mbeya were assigned into three groups. The first group of 1,000 women was invited to the mobile savings (through M-Pawa) only while the second group of 2,000 women was invited for both mobile savings and business training. The third group of 1,000 served as a control group.
Transaction-led data obtained indicated that women in the mobile savings only group saved two times more money weekly on M-Pawa than women in the control group, while those in the mobile savings and business training group saved four times more.
Buvinic said there is a large potential for mobile savings platforms which commercial banks need to design products that focus on women.
She added that the lenders should now consider women as important and trusted customers by reaching out to more rural women, saying this will help even the government to cover more people with financial services.
Stakeholders were quick to agree that digital financial channels are the way to go.
According to Justa Mwaituka, chairperson of the Kiota Women's Health and Development (KIWOHEDE) non- governmental organization which focuses on promoting women’s and children’s rights, mobile savings campaigns should be supported by trainings to make the savings meaningful.
She pointed out that while there are few bank branches especially in rural areas, mobile phone services can be obtained everywhere nowadays.