DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania – Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSD Africa) today announced a new partnership with global non-profit Women’s World Banking to bring 1.3 million people from Sub-Saharan Africa into the formal financial services sector for the first time. Over five years, FSD Africa, a program of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), will provide up to $7.1 million to Women’s World Banking to fund a collaboration that will generate powerful results not only for low-income clients, especially women, but also for the institutions that serve them and the markets in which they operate.

Women’s World Banking will focus in Nigeria, Malawi, and Tanzania to create financial services specifically tailored to the unique needs of women, including innovative savings products and rural credit. The partnership allows Women’s World Banking to expand significantly the scope of its existing relationships with Diamond Bank in Nigeria, NBS of Malawi, and National Microfinance Bank (NMB) in Tanzania. While disproportionately underserved, women are the strongest potential clients for financial institutions with historically higher savings and loan repayment rates. By developing a program that is commercially viable and sustainable, this collaboration will particularly illustrate the social and financial benefits of serving the women’s market.

Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development, said: “Working in partnership with Women’s World Banking and commercial banks will allow us to provide over one million women across Africa with the financial services they need to thrive. Investing in women is hugely powerful. We know that when a woman generates her own income she reinvests 90 percent of it in her family and community. Women are an engine of growth and no country can fully develop unless women are economically empowered as well as men.”

FSD Africa’s substantial commitment to Women’s World Banking is more than matched by multimillion dollar contributions from its banking partners. The partnership will provide funding for leadership development to promote organizational change, market research and other interventions to enhance the banks’ capacity to serve low-income clients well. Local services markets will also benefit from the partnership, including data analytics companies, information technology service providers, and marketing service companies.

Mark Napier, Director of FSD Africa, said: “Access to financial services for women in Africa is persistently worse for women than it is for men. FSD Africa is absolutely committed to doing what it can to close this gap which is why the partnership with Women’s World Banking, with its decades of experience in promoting innovation in financial services for women across the globe, is so exciting. FSD Africa is proud to be able to support this significant step-up in Women’s World Banking’s involvement in Africa.”

Besides support for bank-level organizational change, the partnership also incorporates a major knowledge sharing component. The partnership will be a conduit through which Women’s World Banking’s decades of research and product implementation experience across the world can be introduced into Sub-Saharan Africa. FSD Africa and Women’s World Banking will work together to develop and influence policy across Africa in order to raise awareness of the role of women as drivers of economic change and managers of household security as well as the market opportunities to serve women clients.

“Women’s World Banking is pleased to partner with FSD Africa to expand financial inclusion, particularly for women throughout Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking. “We are honored by this opportunity to help communities across the region build security and prosperity for the future.”

To cement the partnership, Women’s World Banking will establish a sub-Saharan African Board as a platform for developing its sub-Saharan African interests. FSD Africa will be represented on this Board.

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About DFID
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK Government’s work to end extreme poverty. It aims to end the need for aid by creating jobs, unlocking the potential of girls and women and helping to save lives when humanitarian emergencies hit. Find out more at www.gov.uk/dfid

About FSD Africa
FSD Africa is a regional financial sector development programme. It is based in Nairobi but operates across sub-Saharan Africa. Its goal is to reduce poverty which it achieves this by supporting efforts to improve financial inclusion and by helping financial institutions and markets drive economic growth. It supports innovation by working directly with financial institutions on skills development, leadership and organisational change and by encouraging the transfer of knowledge (e.g. research, business models, policy approaches etc.) across borders.

FSD Africa’s initial funding is from the UK’s Department for International Development (“DFID”). It collaborates closely with a network of nine mainly country-based financial sector deepening trusts (“FSDs”), funded by DFID and other donors – in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique and, soon, Malawi.

The Nigerian FSD is called Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (“EFInA”). EFInA provided the grant funding to Diamond Bank for the pilot programme that was the original basis of the collaboration between Women’s World Banking and Diamond. The partnership between FSD Africa and Women’s World Banking therefore builds on EFInA’s early investment.

About Women’s World Banking
Women’s World Banking is the global non-profit devoted to giving more low-income women access to the financial tools and resources essential to their security and prosperity. For more than 35 years we have worked with financial institutions to show them the benefit of investing in women as clients, and as leaders. We equip these institutions to meet women’s needs through authoritative market research, leadership training, sustainable financial products and consumer education. Headquartered in New York, Women’s World Banking works with 39 institutions in 28 countries with a reach of 14 million women to create access to finance on a greater scale that ever before.