Multilateral development finance institution the African Development Bank has signed a grant agreement for $500,000 with Y’ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS), a fintech subsidiary of operator MTN Nigeria. The grant will be used for a study into economic, religious, and social factors hampering access to finance for women in northern Nigeria.
The research, which includes a feasibility study, along with women-focused design and testing, will focus on both agents and customers. Its aim is to provide insights into women’s use of mobile money services.
It will be funded through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI). ADFI works to address the systemic barriers to the growth and uptake of digital financial services by making strategic and catalytic investments in the ecosystem throughout Africa.
Despite being part of the population of the continent’s largest economy, 55 percent of rural Nigerians still lack access to financial services. The rate of mobile money adoption currently stands at four percent.
More pertinently perhaps, given the terms of the planned research, political instability and conservative cultural norms in parts of Northern Nigeria are thought to present barriers to women’s access to finance. Additionally, 80 percent of agents in the region are men.
Inclusion for women, especially in digital services, is an ongoing issue in Africa and many other regions. Back in September 2020 we reported on a study suggesting that having access to mobile phones empowers women in less developed countries. Earlier, in 2019, an ITU report revealed that over half the total global female population was still not using the internet.