In March of 2018, Women’s World Banking announced the launch for She Counts, a global platform that harnesses the power of financial services to put savings and financial tools in the hands of women, enabling them to plan for a more prosperous future. Through extensive due diligence to identify the institutions exemplifying best practices in savings, Women’s World Banking is pleased to announce the first cohort of She Counts members including: NMB (Tanzania); CARD Bank (Philippines); Diamond Bank (Nigeria); and MaTontine (Senegal).
An innovative two-year pilot program led by the Center for Global Development with support from ExxonMobil, tested the impact of
formal savings accounts by connecting more than 5,000 women entrepreneurs in Indonesia and Tanzania with mobile savings tools and business trainings. The rigorous evaluation found that these financial tools have a substantial impact on women’s savings, business practices, and economic empowerment.
Furthermore, a deeper analysis of the pilot revealed this important trend: women want savings accounts more than men do. Across different contexts, 63 percent of women will take a savings account when offered, versus only 26 percent of men.
Despite the demand, not enough women have access to well-designed savings solutions that allow for building a more secure and prosperous future. For this to happen, more awareness and best practices for serving low-income women with savings products must be shared across financial institutions in the emerging markets.
As a result of these findings, She Counts was launched to bring together select financial service providers to share best practices and drive more savings solutions into the hands of underserved women.
What makes an institution successful in serving women well with savings products?
Before selecting the appropriate financial institutions for She Counts, Women’s World Banking identified the best practices along the customer journey. These best practices are broken down into 4 key stages:
- Acquisition/Awareness: To build awareness to acquire a woman client, financial service providers need to be creating marketing messages and visuals that speak to women. They also need to develop use cases that meet women’s lifecycle needs and leverage existing channels women already access, such as savings groups or G2P payments.
- Activation: It isn’t enough to just acquire a client. Women need a reason to conduct the initial transaction. This can be facilitated by a simple account opening process, employing tiered KYC when regulation allows, and leveraging existing ID databases to more easily fulfill documentation requirements.
- Active Usage: To keep women using savings on a regular basis, it is necessary to have well-trained agents that women trust. Building financial and digital literacy programs help women increase their confidence and comfort in using formal financial services. Ensuring women have convenient access points to overcome mobility, distance and time constraints make it easier for women to use products on a regular basis.
- Retention: Women are loyal and profitable clients when treated with respect and with well-designed products. Financial service providers need to ensure fees are not prohibitive and design tools to create ongoing peace of mind, such as balance inquiries. Encouraging goal setting with behavioral nudges builds consistent usage.
In addition, financial service providers need to collect and analyze gender-disaggregated data to measure outreach and engagement with women clients as well as design product bundling to meet women’s diverse financial needs.
Introducing the first cohort of She Counts
After identifying the best practices along the customer journey, Women’s World Banking began its due diligence process to identify the first cohort of She Counts members. Each of the inaugural members has a different business model and approach to serving low-income women but has a deliberate focus on many of the best practices along the customer journey. The members include:
- NMB (Tanzania): A large retail bank in Tanzania, NMB has several savings propositions that serve women effectively including Pamoja, a group savings account that leverages existing Village Savings & Loan Associations (VSLAs) to drive acquisition; Chap Chap, an account that can be opened instantly to drive activation; and Wajibu, a suite of youth and parent-controlled accounts along with financial capability training to drive active usage.
- CARD Bank (Philippines): CARD Bank’s Pledge Savings Account is a commitment savings account that requires deposits at weekly meetings. As part of the Pledge Account, clients have the “konek2Card,” a mobile application where clients can monitor their account, creating peace of mind for ongoing usage.
- Diamond Bank (Nigeria): Diamond Bank’s BETA proposition reaches low-income women market traders throughout Nigeria. The BETA suite of products includes both transactional and commitment savings accounts to meet women’s needs at each stage of their life. BETA Friends are agents that come to the client’s market stalls each day to collect deposits, manage withdrawals and provide basic financial education, building trust with the financial institution through the BETA Friends.
- MaTontine (Senegal): MaTontine is a FinTech platform that digitizes the traditional “Tontines” in order to provide a suite of financial products for women including savings. The managers of the Tontines are well-regarded in the community in order to build greater trust with the financial system. In addition, SMS messages are sent to members to remind them to deposit, creating an ongoing savings behavior. MaTontine also collects and analyzes its data to provide credit and insurance products based on prior client behavior.
The first cohort of She Counts members were brought together in November 2018 to share their experiences, learn from each other and explore new solutions to reach their clients. Women’s World Banking will continue to share insights from these institutions as well as build additional cohorts of She Counts members. If you are interested in becoming a She Counts member, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
She Counts is generously supported by the ExxonMobil Foundation.