Helping Women Save in Nigeria
Women’s World Banking, Diamond Bank, EFInA and Visa work together to offer Nigerian women an opportunity to save safely and conveniently, by moving physical cash out from under mattresses and into formal savings accounts.
Like many women in Lagos, Nigeria, Omobolanle Susan Iganyemi is saving for her business. She helps support her family with the income from her small shop where she sells provisions like flour, beans and oil. Ms. Omobolanle knows the value of saving, as she saved for three years to get her business started. Now she saves to grow the business for her children and their future, and to help out her mother when she can.
While saving is a top priority, currently Ms. Omobolanle has to rely on informal mechanisms. Every day her “alaajo” or savings collector visits so she can deposit into her savings club. She pays a monthly fee for the service, which is popular in Nigeria and in much of the developing world. These clubs help women save for business and household needs, such as school fees for their children, as well as help them manage their cash flow—a necessary tool for running households on limited and unpredictable incomes.
With the right savings program, Ms. Omobolanle could set aside some of that money for longer-term asset building, including investments in housing and higher education. That’s why Women’s World Banking (WWB), Diamond Bank and Visa are working together to advance financial inclusion in Nigeria for underserved women and provide them an opportunity to become economically and socially empowered through access to a savings account.
Visa is providing philanthropic funding that supports WWB’s work to help develop a commercially viable savings product tailored to the needs of underserved women like Ms. Omobolanle. Helping these women move physical cash into formal savings accounts –combined with the potential of mobile phones to enable access to these accounts –will be a significant step toward financial inclusion in the market.
While mobile phones are ubiquitous in Nigeria, even among the poor, one of the challenges of offering savings services to low-income women is making it sustainable for banks to manage small accounts with high activity. Transacting on mobile phones could change that equation–and help Ms. Omobolanle and other women start to realize goals such as owning a house, sending their children to university and helping their children start businesses of their own.
“The roles of women are many,” says Ms. Omobolanle. “In society today you can see women who are running for senator. Women are in top positions now in Nigeria. There are people who say that women are for (the) kitchen, but we are not just for that now. We are moving forward now.”