The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved two grants worth $1.3 million for research aimed at increasing women’s access to a range of digital financial services on the continent.
In a statement on Monday, AfDB said the grants will be disbursed by Africa digital financial inclusion facility (ADFI), a blended finance vehicle supported by the bank.
The grants will be disbursed to two fintech firms, Pula Advisors Kenya and M-KOPA Kenya.
AfDB said Pula Advisors will use the $1 million for research of social and economic factors that impact women farmers’ access to microinsurance in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia while M-KOPA will use the $300,000 funding for research involving 500 women and men in Kenya’s Kisumu, Eldoret and Machakos counties.
It said findings from the research will inform the design and implementation of gender-centric insurance products and the project will be undertaken over a three-year time frame.
Sheila Okiro, AfDB’s coordinator for ADFI, said: “This grant funding will be used to leverage technology to develop innovative and responsive loan and insurance products that can spur productivity and inclusion, especially for our women smallholder farmers and traders”.
“The three-year project will have three phases: product development; piloting; and scaling; the outcomes are expected to benefit 360,000 farmers, 50 percent of them women, as well as boost farm yields by up to 30 percent. This will also raise incomes and enhance household and national food security.”
M-KOPA said it will assess the barriers to 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 that is relevant to small-scale women traders.
This project, initially approved by AfDB on February 9, 2021, will benefit women that run small informal businesses with no or limited access to financial services.
The bank said the mobile app will be used to pilot small loans to women traders after it is developed.