THE level of financial access for women has increased to 57.4 percent in 2015, compared to 33.9 percent in 2009, Bank of Zambia deputy governor Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula has said.
And Vice President Inonge Wina has called on banks across the country to increase financial inclusion for women in order to reduce the gap between the reach and the poor in society.
Dr Kankasa-Mabula said according to the FinScope Zambia 2015 survey, 17.2 percent of women had or used formal financial services, compared to 13.9 in 2009.
“In 2015, the survey also found that 24.1 percent of women used informal financial services, compared to 14.1 percent in 2009 and most importantly, in 2015, the proportion of women that were financially excluded had declined to 42.6 percent compared to 62.7 percent in 2009,” she said.
The BOZ deputy governor was speaking during the disbursement of K 3.220 million loans to 1,700 women self-help groups under the Indo Zambia Bank micro finance programme in Lusaka yesterday.
Dr Kankasa-Mabula said the initiative taken by financial institutions to develop financial products and services that were tailored to meet the needs of women have had a positive bearing on the financial inclusion for women.
And Mrs Wina said increased financial inclusion for women had the potential to reduce income inequality between the rich and the poor.
“I am elated to observe that this innovative scheme is a desirable shift from the traditional loan schemes that have for a long time characterized traditional banking models in Zambia which target the higher end of the market,” she said.
Mrs Wina observed that under the new approach women beneficiaries had increased to over 2, 000 from the maiden number of 940 women in 2011.
“The Indo Zambia micro credit scheme is not only a welcome innovative but important in enhancing financial inclusion in our country, as it focuses on women groups, micro and small enterprises, usually excluded segments by the traditional banking models,” she said.
Mrs Wina further observed that financial access had continued being a challenge regardless of the positive economic performance that the country had recorded in the recent past.
She said despite the entry of new banks and expansion of products and services by market players, there were still several parts of the country and numerous segments of Zambia where financial services were still unavailable.
And Indo Zambia Bank managing director Shankardas Gupta explained that the objective of targeting self-help groups was to reach out to as many people as possible at once.
Mr Gupta said it was also aimed at encouraging people to function in groups and banking activities particularly savings and credit.