The African Development Bank has approved two grants for research that will increase African women’s access to a range of digital financial services including loans and micro insurance.
The bank said in a statement on Monday that the grants for $1m and $300,000 respectively would be disbursed through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility, a blended finance vehicle supported by the bank, to two Kenyan financial technology firms.
Pula Advisors, one of the firms, would use the $1m for research of social, cultural and economic factors that impact women farmers’ access to micro-insurance in Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia, the statement said.
“Research findings will inform the design and implementation of gender-centric insurance products. The project will be undertaken over a three-year time frame,” the bank said.
According to the coordinator for ADFI, Sheila Okiro, the grant funding would be used to leverage technology to develop innovative and responsive loan and insurance products that could spur productivity and inclusion, especially for women smallholders and traders.
She said, “The three-year project will have three phases: product development; piloting; and scaling; the outcomes are expected to benefit 360,000 farmers, 50 per cent of them women, as well as boost farm yields by up to 30 per cent.
“This will also raise incomes and enhance household and national food security.”
The second tech firm, M-KOPA, will use $300,000 grant funding for research involving 250 women and 250 men in Kenya’s Kisumu, Eldoret and Machakos counties.
The bank noted that the company would assess the barriers and opportunities for women’s access to digital financial services and financial literacy programmes via smartphone, and use the research insights to design a financial services app relevant to small-scale women traders.
The project, approved by the bank on 9 February, 2021 is aimed at helping women with no or limited access to financial services that run small informal businesses.