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Education the key to real financial inclusion of women

“Financial inclusion helps lift people out of poverty and can help speed economic development. It can draw more women into the mainstream of economic activity, harnessing their contributions to society.”
Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director, the World Bank

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For the financial inclusion of women to be truly successful education about financial tools and how to use them is an imperative.

Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF), a MasterCard partner for gender equity in financial inclusion, is at the forefront of educating young women in Nigeria about the financial sector

On April 28th we held our International Girls in ICT Day, in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.

Girls in ICT Day is a global initiative that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in information and communications technology (ICT).

This year, YTF’s Girls in ICT Day program introduced how online marketplaces can provide sustainable sources of income especially with the use of 3D printing techniques and innovation. Nigeria now has near 100 percent wireless coverage and a 92 percent cellphone ownership rate, and, for the first time, Nigerians have access to global online marketplaces anywhere, anytime, on any device.

The youth are taught to address local needs and create sustainable answers with 3D printing, develop inventions or innovated products to meet those needs, and, in meeting their own livelihood needs, increase income through global online markets.

The potential for income generation, and greatly increased financial inclusion for Nigerian girls and women, is significant.

MasterCard considers this event to be an important opportunity to increase the female financial inclusion rate in Nigeria (currently only 34% of women compared to 54% of males are financially included), especially through the use of e-payments and e-commerce.

Since its launch in 2012, MasterCard and YTF’s Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs and Mobile Value Added Services (NWEMVAS) program has provided training in financial skills, business capabilities, mentorships, networking, and ongoing mobile SMS business strategies for 10,823 women entrepreneurs throughout Nigeria.

The partnership has created approximately 1,050 jobs, begun 180 new businesses within the first six months after participation, expanded 450 businesses within the first six months, and generated $6.2 million in new revenue.

Research shows that women are better savers ploughing back most of their income into the well-being and sustenance of their families, especially their children.

In a recent survey of women who participated in the NWEMVAS program, 74 percent of participants indicated their “daughters would follow in their steps to establish a business.

Those that don’t pursue entrepreneurship, often end up in the informal sector where their contributions aren’t adequately quantified or measured.

Women are a powerful driver of economic growth and make significant economic contributions to African economies through their entrepreneurial activities.

In a country such as Nigeria, where literacy levels are low and women are 28% less literate than men the need for financial literacy training cannot be underestimated.

Coupled with this is the need for better-quality education for girls from an early age to expose them to how financial institutions operate and the challenges of entrepreneurship. Educating women about the range of products and services available in the market and how they can serve their needs is imperative.

That is why partnerships such as the one between YTF and MasterCard are so important when it comes to driving the financial inclusion of young women.

Recognizing that technology provides an equal playing field, YTF’s mission is to create enriched learning communities where the use of technology affords education, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities for at-risk, marginalized youth, girls, and women.

YTF’s vision is that access to technology and education should be a basic human right, and that technology should be used as a medium to educate, fight poverty, solve critical problems, stimulate entrepreneurship, and create a generation of change leaders.

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