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Women's Financial Inclusion and Economic Empowerment

Women and girls face unique and persistent challenges to economic empowerment. Whether overt or tacit, many women and girls are denied access and agency to take up financial and nonfinancial services that could profoundly improve the livelihoods, coping mechanisms and lives of themselves and their families. Ayani recognizes the stark contrast between the significant contribution that women make to emerging economies, and their access to finance, non-financial services and basic opportunities for business growth.

As a women-owned firm with a keen awareness of the access and agency challenges faced by women in emerging economies, Ayani also maintains a special commitment to advancing female entrepreneurs’ access to finance, linking them to skill-building initiatives and advancing their opportunities to thrive in economic markets. Ayani's efforts to help bridge the gender gap have included:

  • Conducting a country assessment of the supply of financial and training resources, as well as the barriers to their access, as specific to women across Zimbabwe;

  • Assessing women’s contributions to specific agricultural value chains in Mozambique and developing strategies for overcoming barriers to women’s inclusion

  • Collaborating with local financial service providers and other sector actors in numerous countries in Africa and Asia to develop and implement strategies for improving women’s financial inclusion;

  • Advising and equipping financial institutions to better reach and serve women-owned businesses;

  • Encouraging socially responsible investors to devote funding to initiatives aiming to close the gender credit gap;

  • Empowering women-owned enterprises, through direct business development support, training and mentoring initiatives; and

  • Focusing on value chains that support high rates of female participation.


SIGNATURE PROJECTS




Financial inclusion market scoping for women in 12 Asian countries

As part of its Financial Inclusion strategy, a component of its larger Women’s Economic Empowerment initiative, CARE International UK wanted to expand in Asia, including in CARE’s priority countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Opportunities for improving financial inclusion in Asia are strong, and CARE had comparative advantages in this field. In order to do this, CARE needed a better understanding of the opportunities and threats in the region, and hired AYANI to produce a report, with recommendations, highlighting threats and opportunities in each of the priority countries.

With this insight, Ayani was able to guide CARE’s Financial Inclusion strategy development for Asia. Ayani’s assessment covered strategic sectors of particular relevance in each market, including VSLA models, self-help groups, wage payment and savings options for garment factory workforce, partnerships between banks and MNOs to develop women-friendly and VSLA-friendly mobile banking applications.

Financing options for women in Zimbabwe

Ayani implemented a study for UN Women with the objective of identifying promising financial and non-financial interventions to promoted access to well adapted financial solutions for women in Zimbabwe.

Activities included a market scan of the financial sector landscape in the provision of financial services for women; qualitative and quantitative studies of demand for financial services among women-owned SMEs and supply-side analysis to determine existing services, gaps and opportunities for innovation. Ayani collected data that was analysed and compared to data collected during the FINSCOPE study, made available by FinMark Trust.





Women inclusive finance strategy development in Mozambique

The Financial Sector Deepening-Mozambique (FSDMoç) is a 5-year (2014-2019) program funded by the UK Government – DFID with the goal of promoting financial inclusion of women through improved access to financial services for women-led SMEs, smallholder farmers and households. The project found that there are opportunities to support the market targeting women with new products that serve different segments according to their level of income, such as payments, insurance and savings products that can be linked to mobile platforms to improve flexibility and proximity. However, to unlock this potential, FSDMoç sought first to ascertain the barriers to be addressed at the macro, meso and micro levels, as well as opportunities for building a financial market in Mozambique that is inclusive of women in different income brackets, economic sectors and geographical regions of the country.

Ayani was tapped to:

1. Engage with FSDMoç on its work with Women’s World Banking in refining the partnerships with financial service providers;

2. Facilitate a workshop with key players to brainstorm ideas for developing women’s access to financial services;

3. Conduct strategic one-on-one meetings with key players with FSDMoç team;

4. Engage with FSDMoç team to formulate general conclusions for how FSDMoç should support women’s access to financial services; and

5. Prepare a financial inclusion strategy focused on women-led enterprises and detailing interventions, outcomes, outputs and types of partnerships.

The Women’s Financial Inclusion Strategy now serves as guidance for all project investments withthe goal of significantly expanding and scaling up women’s access to financial services in Mozambique.

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