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Guest blog: Positive signs for the future of financial inclusion for women

November 27, 2017
By Maria Largey, Head of Financial Institutions, CDC Group

I recently attended the Making Finance Work for Women summit in Tanzania, which brought together hundreds of people to share ideas and discuss issues relating to financial inclusion for women. Here are three things I took away from the conference in Dar es Salaam.

1. People are committed to the cause

With 300 people from 30 countries across the world coming together for the summit, it’s clear to see that businesses, organisations and governments are committed to improving women’s financial inclusion.

Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan underlined this commitment by giving a passionate keynote speech on what initiatives the country is introducing to support women from low income groups. Whilst we know there is a very long way to go, the positive message she ended on resonated with people in the room: “We know that if women participate as equally in the economy as men, the global GDP can increase by a mammoth 12 trillion U.S. dollars by 2025”, the Vice President said. She was exactly right – we are all aware of the challenges but, more than anything, we are inspired by the opportunities.

2. We can learn from others

When you get people from so many different backgrounds together, there are great opportunities to learn from what others are doing. At the summit, it was interesting to hear how different organisations are supporting financial inclusion for women, none more so than the Visa Foundation, which announced a $20 million grant for Women’s World Banking (the event organisers) to improve women’s access to financial services in India, Mexico, Egypt and Nigeria.

We also heard some insightful views from people not (yet) working in the sector. One of the highlights of the two days for me was hearing from a group of girls from Tanzania about their experiences using youth bank accounts and how they’re helping their friends at school to save for their futures. It was a powerful reminder of the importance of financial inclusion and the impact it has on people’s lives – I’m sure some of them will be back onstage giving speeches at the summit in years to come.

3. The UK is doing more than ever before

While we were in Dar es Salaam, I was pleased to meet with the British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Sarah Cooke. Ms Cooke is incredibly supportive of initiatives to improve financial inclusion for women in Tanzania and it’s great to see such leadership on the issue.

CRDB Bank, one of our investee businesses in Tanzania, has introduced a programme aimed at unbanked women. The ‘Women Access to Finance Initiative’ provides affordable loans, totalling £8.5 million, and a financial literacy programme for female entrepreneurs in Tanzania.

At CDC, we’re always looking for ways we can work with the businesses we invest in to improve financial inclusion. Our time at the summit showed we are not alone – there are many people from likeminded organisations all around the world committed to making a positive impact.

Author is second from left.

CDC Group was a sponsor of the Making Finance Work for Women Summit.

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