Fostering Financial Inclusion for Low-Income Women in Haiti and the DR Congo
It has become increasingly clear that men and women make financial decisions differently, having conflicting needs, preferences and behaviours, but exhibit a shared mission to achieve both business and personal financial goals.
Due to deep rooted social-cultural norms and associated gender biases, women are disproportionately financially excluded. This inequity has led to a gender poverty gap which is exacerbated in impoverished countries, as large portions of their female populations lack education opportunities and are challenged by financial illiteracy and limited financial independence.
To eliminate these obstacles and create opportunities for financial inclusion, for both men and women, FINCA Canada—in partnership with the Government of Canada — have implemented a Financial Inclusion Project in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to increase economic prosperity for all with a focus on low-income women.
Why conduct a Gender Assessment Report
To ensure accuracy in the execution of this project, FINCA Canada conducted a Gender Assessment Report (GAR), which aims to mainstream gender centric thinking into FINCA Haiti and DRC’s processes and operations. With a mission to ensure added educational value for male and female stakeholders, both internal and external, this report acts as a key component in improving staff training and external product offerings, guaranteeing it accurately caters to the needs of both men and women in Haiti and the DRC.
The GAR improves FINCA Canada’s ability to analyze their practices through a gendered lens, to ensure that low-income women can leverage their products and services as efficiently as men, fostering equal financial gain for all.
To encourage financial involvement for females in both Haiti and the DRC, FINCA is incorporating a systematic integration of gender considerations in all phases of research. This new feature allows staff to analyze and address the business activities, financial needs, and challenges in accessing financial services for their female client base, which are commonly different in comparison to men.
In response to the accelerated rate of digital transformation, FINCA Canada is making concerted efforts to ensure that women have fair and equal access to new technologies that are adopted to better their customers experience. This can be achieved by rethinking customer engagement through a gendered scope, which is commonly done through relationship-based customer service models.
FINCA Canada has also made a conscious effort to tailor messaging through its marketing networks to better attract female audiences. FINCA Canada is providing gender sensitive monitoring to help navigate the process of digital transformation while closely assessing the feedback in relation to women. This is based on the anticipated increase of accessibility and usage of financial services by women.
Varying gender considerations and their impact
According to a study conducted by Women’s World Banking, research suggests that in most cases, products designed with a woman’s needs in mind are better received by both male and female audiences. This is because women are believed to have high standards and products that typically work for women tend to also work well for men.
This new outlook has formed and is supported by many successes identified in FINCA Haiti and FINCA DRC.
For Haiti, an innovative agricultural product adapted to forego collateral requirements as women typically do not have assets for loans, helping to eliminate the structural complexity and limitations around these financial products. With this small pivot came a sea change: 75 percent of clients using this product identify as women, opening new avenues for Haitian women and their communities to make their own financial decisions.
For the DRC, the clear value-add of financial literacy programs coupled with digital channels and banking agents become all the more apparent during the pandemic. Since the beginning of FINCA Canada’s Financial Inclusion Project, over 13,000 low-income women have been trained in financial literacy. Despite pandemic-related lockdowns, FINCA Canada continued to meaningfully connect with clients through digital messages and online training. In addition, the number of mobile savings clients increased significantly from 78,108 to 126,485 in 2020, and mobile transactions saw a similarly steep increase.
The key findings from the GAR report, combined with efforts executed under our Financial Inclusion Project, provides insights for FINCA Haiti, FINCA DRC and other countries to better address gender-based considerations through all our daily practices. Our mission is improving FINCA’s client experience through operations that advance FINCA’s Financial Inclusion Project as well as FINCA’s Diversity and Inclusion work.
Learn more at www.FINCACANADA.org about how FINCA Canada is helping 120,000 Congolese and Haitian women restart or pivot their micro-businesses and avoiding slipping back into extreme poverty through our OppHERtunity Campaign.