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Press Release: Women’s World Banking, ExxonMobil Foundation and the Center for Global Development Announce New Global Initiative, She Counts, to Put Financial Tools in the Hands of Women

New platform launched alongside report on the transformative power of savings for women

For Immediate Release:
March 22, 2018

Contact: Maura Hart, +1 212 556 3156 or meh@womensworldbanking.org

NEW YORK, NY – Today, Women’s World Banking, the Center for Global Development, and ExxonMobil Foundation launched She Counts, a global initiative convening and harnessing the power of financial service providers committed to serving women. Announced at a special event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, She Counts aims to harness the power of financial services to put savings and financial tools in the hands of underserved women, enabling them to save securely and invest in their businesses.

More than 1 billion women today are unbanked. Research shows that women are savers but many lack access to financial tools or feel pressured to provide their income to family members rather than saving or investing it themselves. She Counts will convene financial inclusion stakeholders to share best practices and cutting-edge business insights to drive more savings and financial services solutions into the hands of underserved women.

“With nearly 40 years of experience designing financial products for women, Women’s World Banking knows that women’s desire to save is often the motivation for women to engage with the formal financial system for the first time,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking. “She Counts is designed to serve women at scale, joining banks, mobile network operators and fintech companies together with leading research and financial inclusion experts, to design best-in-class financial services for women.”

She Counts is grounded in an innovative two-year pilot program that 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, led by the Center for Global Development with support from ExxonMobil, found that these financial tools have a substantial impact on women’s savings, business practices and economic empowerment.

“These findings add to emerging scientific evidence in other countries and contexts showing that savings, including mobile savings, can meet women’s preference to save and encourage their economic self-reliance – a smart outcome both for women and for banks and financial service providers,” said Mayra Buvinic, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development.

Analysis of the pilot program reveals the following trends among women entrepreneurs across countries and in Tanzania:

  • Women Are Savers – Women want savings accounts more than men do. Across different contexts, 63% of women will take a savings account when offered, versus only 26% of men.
  • Mobile Savings Could Be A Game Changer – When women have access to mobile savings tools, they save more money and increase borrowing.
  • Business Training Boosts the Effects of Savings – Women who receive savings tools and business management training save significantly more, and increase good business practices like record keeping and financial planning.
  • Savings Help Women Feel More Empowered and Optimistic For the Future – Women who have access to savings tools report being more empowered at home and feeling happier and more satisfied with their lives.
  • Savings Can Spur Business Growth – Women who have access to mobile savings platforms and business training adopt better business practices. Some open a second business and are able to increase their overall monthly profits.

“She Counts builds on ExxonMobil’s landmark research, A Roadmap for Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment, which found that financial savings are a powerful tool to advance women around the world,” said Kevin Murphy, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation. “Our partnership with Women’s World Banking and the Center for Global Development will put more financial tools in the hands of women, enabling them to save securely and invest in their businesses and communities.”

She Counts announced that it is actively seeking more partners that want to expand their customer base and offer innovative savings and other financial tools to underserved and unserved women. To learn more about She Counts and review findings from the mobile savings pilot program, please visit www.shecounts.com.

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About Women’s World Banking
Women’s World Banking is the global leader in women’s financial inclusion. Rooted in our deep understanding of the women’s market, we tackle financial inclusion in three interconnected ways: first, by partnering with financial services providers to develop scalable market-driven solutions; second, through our gender-lens private equity fund; and, finally, because diverse institutions are proven to be stronger, we build institutional capacity through leadership and diversity programs. Through this holistic approach and our global reach of 49 institutions in 31 countries, we accelerate economic opportunity for low income women and growth for financial service providers in the emerging markets.

About the Center for Global Development
The Center for Global Development works to reduce global poverty and inequality through rigorous research and active engagement with the policy community. A nimble, independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit think tank, our world-class researchers use cutting edge economic analysis to design new policy solutions across a range of areas that affect development, including women’s economic empowerment. Our work in this area is led by senior fellows Mayra Buvinic and Charles Kenny.

About ExxonMobil Foundation
The ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of ExxonMobil Corporation in the United States, providing funding globally to improve basic education, promote women as catalysts for development and combat malaria in developing countries. In 2005, ExxonMobil launched the Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative, a global effort to help women fulfill their economic potential and drive social change in their communities. To date, ExxonMobil has invested more than $120 million, benefitting tens of thousands of women in more than 90 countries.

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