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Empowering Moms with Financial Tools to Help Them be the Best Moms They Can be

By Gayle Gatchalian, Specialist, Knowledge and Communications
May 10, 2018

Few people stop to wonder, until they become parents themselves, how moms manage to do everything that they do. Usually up before anyone else in home and the last to go to sleep, Mom will get breakfast ready, get the kids to school, clean the house, plan, budget and shop for the home and have dinner ready when everyone gets home.

Sounds like a full day for a regular person right?

Well that’s just half the story. Mom does all of the above… and runs her small business or goes to her job at the office, factory or other place of employment.

We at Women’s World Banking know that women are short on time and long on responsibilities. That’s why work with financial service providers around the world to develop financial tools that not only meet her complex needs, but ensure that they are accessible, meaningful and easy for her to use.

A better way to save

We know from our research that low-income women are inherent savers. They are expected to (and do!) manage the household’s finances, juggling day to day needs while making sure that school fees are paid and health emergencies are covered. Too often however, they are forced to save in unreliable ways: at home in a drawer, by buying excess stock for their businesses or in neighborhood savings clubs because banks do not have savings products that work for them.

We’ve worked on a number of products to give women a chance to save safely in a formal way. With Diamond Bank in Nigeria, we developed the BETA Savings which can be opened in less than five minutes and has no minimum balance and no monthly fees. Agents called BETA Friends visit a customer’s business to open accounts and handle transactions, including deposit and withdrawal, using a mobile phone application.

With NBS Bank in Malawi, we developed Pafupi Savingsthe first-of-its-kind account in the country—which allows small deposits, charges no monthly fees, and it operates through agents in conveniently located rural shops. We’ve made the account even more accessible to rural women where bank branches or ATMs could be as far as three hours away. By linking up with a local microfinance organization, Pafupi gives members a secure, convenient option for individual formal banking alongside their group savings which they never had before.

Partnering with kids to help Mom save

We’ve also worked in an indirect way to encourage women to save with a formal financial institution: through their children. Women’s World Banking worked with NMB Bank Plc. in Tanzania to offer savings accounts for youth. It turns out the children we served were encouraging their moms to save formally… just like them!

The desire to save for her kids is also a great motivator to get Mom to open, and better yet, save even more for her child’s future. One of the youth savings accounts we developed with Diamond Bank was a parent-monitored account for youth aged 13-17: CoolTeens. When our team visited to conduct an evaluation last year, they found that account balances of mothers are consistently higher than fathers and that the highest balances are for mothers saving for their daughters… a whole 2x higher when we compare with fathers saving for their sons!

Caring for her health

One of Mom’s top priorities is making sure everyone is healthy, sometimes at her own expense. We’ve observed that globally, women put the well-being of their children and their work first. When they feel unwell, they tend to ignore the symptoms, rely on home remedies or use over-the-counter drugs to control the symptoms.

Women only seek healthcare with the pain is unbearable or for pregnancy and childbirth. Unfortunately, most insurance schemes actually exclude pregnancy and childbirth from the conditions they cover. That’s why all our microinsurance solutions for women cover their maternal health. We piloted this approach in Jordan and have since expanded the Caregiver concept to Egypt, Morocco, Uganda and India.

No longer will Mom have to dip into her savings, sell assets, decapitalize her business, borrow from friends, family or informal money lenders when she is sick. She can take care of her health without risking falling deeper into poverty.

When we give moms the financial tools and resources they need to manage her financial life, she can build a better future for herself and her family.

Happy Mother’s Day, from all of us at Women’s World Banking!

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