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Women’s World Banking’s research has shown that women are inherent savers. Although their incomes are often low and unpredictable, they manage to save on average 10 to 15 percent of their earnings, and girls as young as 10 years old regularly accumulate money, actively manage it, and want a safe place to save it. However, the majority of women and youth are forced to save informally in unreliable ways: at home in a drawer, by buying excess stock for their businesses or in a neighborhood savings club. A savings account with a financial institution can provide them with a safe place to save. Women’s World Banking’s experience has also shown that offering savings can help a financial institutions reach new clients and lay the foundation for other products such as loans and insurance
Women’s World Banking is currently working with several commercial banks to expand women’s access to savings accounts using digital channels. In Malawi, NBS Bank worked with Women’s World Banking to develop the Pafupi (meaning “close” in the local language of Chichewa) savings account, a digital account designed for low-income rural women with no previous access to a bank. Women can open accounts and make small deposits and withdrawals whenever they want at local shops with NBS Bank agents using mobile technology.
Women’s World Banking and Banco ADOPEM (Dominican Republic), developed Mía, a youth savings account coupled with financial education. Mía is segmented to two age groups, a younger Menores account for youth ages 7–15 and controlled by parents and an older Mayores account for youth ages 16–24 and controlled directly by youth. We developed a financial education curriculum that was delivered by Banco ADOPEM’s affiliated nonprofit, ADOPEM NGO through schools. The sessions covered savings, goals, banking, and money management, and was supplemented by interactive games that reinforced the lessons.
Women’s World Banking is also collaborating with both Diamond Bank and Tanzania’s National Microfinance Bank (NMB) to develop youth banking products. Each suite of products will offer savings accounts specifically designed for youth of various age groups, and Women’s World Banking is also supporting the design of complementary financial education. NMB, for example, will offer a Junior Account for parents of children ages 0-18, a Teen Account for savers ages 13-17, and a Student Account for youth 18 and over who are pursuing higher education. Both banks recognize the youth market as an opportunity to build client loyalty while helping youth build good savings habits from a young age.