FINANCIAL Sector Deepening Zambia (FSDZ) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) have signed a British pound £2.4 million women’s financial inclusion project fund to benefit women and youths in Zambia.
The funding was aimed at increasing financial inclusion for youth, women and their households in a bid to reduce vulnerability and creating greater income opportunities.
FSDZ chief executive officer Betty Wilkinson said the sector worked to build an understanding of the market through research and relationship building, first when it opened in Zambia in 2013.
Ms Wilkinson said women were reliable and strategic consumers of financial services and that due to income disparities and uneven information sources, they were more likely to be financially excluded and had lower financial capability.
“In addition to overall income disparity, there is also a gendered difference in sources of income between men and women; that is, after agriculture, men are more likely to earn salaries, and women are more likely to operate micro-businesses or depend on others,” she said.
She said according to the 2015 Finscope report, only 33 percent of women access formal financial services and the use of formal financial services decreases as poverty deepens.
And Swedish Ambassador Henrik Cederin said the ultimate impact from funding would increase the well-being of youth and women and a reduction in the gender gap.
Ambassador Cederin said the three-year project would contribute to the Swedish Results Strategy for Zambia 2013-2017 which, among other aims and objectives, strives to obtain increased access to financial services for small-scale farmers, entrepreneurs and businesses.
He said Sweden would contribute to at least 30,000 small-scale farmers having access to financial services.
“There are four key interventions proposed under the agreement that includes an increased financial inclusion and capabilities of young Zambians, increased financial capabilities and uptake of financial services for rural women’s farming activities and household expenditures, increased uptake of financial services and support services including financial education for women-owned and operated SMEs,” Ambassador Cederin explained.
Mr Cederin said the financial market system had to be improved to work better for the poor in order to increase financial inclusion.
“By signing the agreement between FSDZ and Sweden, we believe we can make a real impact in the financial market by both increasing women’s capabilities as well as developing financial services that can better meet their needs,” he said.