Viewpoint: Data Is a Powerful Tool for Accelerating Financial Inclusion Among Women
By Nada Shousha
During my career in finance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), I have attended numerous workshops on financial inclusion. Many times, bank chief executive officers have been asked about the proportion of women customers in their portfolios, and invariably their reply has been: “We do not discriminate by gender at our bank. A customer is a customer”.
That might be the politically correct answer, but the numbers suggest many lenders still shy away from female borrowers. In MENA, only 35 percent of women have a bank account, compared to 52 percent of men, the widest gap of any region in the world. What’s more, around 30 percent of formal small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing economies are owned fully or partially by women. Yet, on average, only about 10 percent of women entrepreneurs have access to the capital they need to grow their businesses.
Photo courtesy of WorldFish.