Opening a Women-Only Bank Branch in Afghanistan
Financial Services for those Who Need It Most
FINCA has long worked in markets other financial service providers have found uneconomical to serve and too difficult to reach. Consequently, low-income and marginalized women are the most likely to be excluded from financial services. Combined with persistent conflict, political instability and economic underdevelopment, these women are left with few options to pursue their dreams.
For this reason—and on the heels of war—FINCA launched microfinance services in Afghanistan in 2003. Decades of conflict caused living standards in Afghanistan to be among the lowest in the world. More than a third of the population lives in poverty and 85 percent are financially excluded. FINCA aimed from the outset to meet the financial service needs of low-income Afghan women, ethnic minorities and returning refugees. Today, FINCA Afghanistan serves more than 25,000 clients in 21 locations across the country.
Growing Women’s Financial Inclusion
FINCA has always been a catalyst for women’s economic empowerment, and FINCA Afghanistan is no exception. In a country where women are especially vulnerable due to marginalization, weak economic participation and discrimination, FINCA is at the forefront of driving economic equality. Sixty-one percent of FINCA Afghanistan borrowers are women, and tailored loan products are made available for women-run microenterprises. Now, FINCA Afghanistan is inaugurating its first women-only bank branch.
This unique offering, which exclusively serves women clients, is staffed by an all-female team of financial professionals. It offers the full range of FINCA Afghanistan’s financial products, including small enterprise and agricultural loans, as well as Sharia-compliant loans for Islamic clients. Beyond access to financial services, this women-only branch serves as a space for women to share experiences, knowledge and entrepreneurship opportunities. It gives Afghan women the freedom to express their views and ask questions, opportunities that are often restricted in public spaces.
The opening of a women-only bank branch in Afghanistan represents a significant step toward our goal of promoting gender equality. It also affirms our commitment to catalyzing women’s economic empowerment through financial inclusion.