Leading image

Using fintech to drive financial inclusion for rural women

Blog

by , , and

Blog

Despite women’s role as key players in agriculture and the rural economy of developing countries, a great many barriers prevent them from making a more substantial contribution. Compared with men, women have less access to productive resources, such as affordable finance. In Uganda, an alternative financial service is helping women to save, borrow, increase productivity and strengthen their roles across the agricultural value chain.

Akaboxi is a Uganda-based start-up developed and launched in 2016 by two young women, Sarah Atuhaire Baryaija, 34 and Edinah Kyokusiima Mabumba, 23 and one young man Joshua Businge Muleesi, 25, from the rural Sheema district. Seeing women from their home village struggle to organise group savings, they decided to leverage digital technology to help rural women access small loans. Through scoping research conducted in 2015, which mapped the challenges faced by women in savings groups, women themselves were involved in the design of the Akaboxi service, identifying problems to be addressed and some tailored solutions that would work in a rural setting.

Akaboxi targets self-launched women’s savings groups, consisting of up to 30 members who traditionally collect their weekly savings - between €0.48 and €2.4 - in a community savings box, at the group leader’s home. Group members use the Akaboxi handheld device which has an app, which captures the transactions (savings, borrowings and interest charged) that take place during the savings groups’ meeting. Each member has an identity card (ID) that is used during the meeting, and receives a receipt for any transaction made, to encourage transparency. This enables women to monitor and manage their group savings, and to reduce the risk of losing their financial records in a paper-based system.

Building up a track record

The Akaboxi scheme links savings groups to financial institutions, where savings are kept in a shared account, thereby providing an alternative to high-risk home-based saving. Each member’s ID card contains their demographic information, which is digitally linked to the device to capture all transactions that take place. In this way, members are able to build on a record of transactions that can be used for credit scoring.

Five groups, the majority made up of women, are currently using Akaboxi to save a total of around €10,000 each year. Due to the individual members’ needs and the limited cumulative savings available in the groups, Akaboxi provides members with small loans at a low interest rate. The ultimate goal is to make rural women more eligible to access loans from financial institutions through positive transaction records. Akaboxi is building partnerships with financial institutions to reduce interest rates charged to all farmers, thereby motivating farmers to open bank accounts. Low interest rates will encourage farmers to borrow and increase their productivity, which in turn generates more earnings and savings.

Working for women, with women

The Akaboxi formula is enabling farmers to borrow and develop, both individually and at community level. For example, savings group members have used their loans to educate their children, buy land or invest in production.

“I have benefited from Akaboxi by being able to educate my children. I built a house and I am doing better now. But if I get more help I will be able to advance further,” said Juliet Kyomuhendo who lives in Rwamuganga village, Sheema district.

The Akaboxi market is expected to grow, driven by the benefits of saving as a community of people who know and trust each other. Akaboxi plans to expand to six more sub-counties in Sheema district by the end of 2019, engaging 2,640 saving groups, reaching a total of around 79,000 people.. The start-up also aims to expand to the neighbouring districts of Bushenyi, Ibanda, Mbarara, Rukungiri, Kanungu and Ntungamo, servicing 18,480 groups, comprising around 550,000 people.

Akaboxi’s key quality is its adaptive capacity. The technology offered is relatively simple and addresses elementary risks of home-based women’s savings groups. By involving the women in decision-making and creating an environment where they can safely voice their concerns, Akaboxi is able to tailor products to their specific needs.

This article was created through a CTA-led process to document and share actionable knowledge on 'what works' for ACP agriculture. It capitalises on the insights, lessons and experiences of practitioners to inform and guide the implementation of agriculture for development projects.

Location:

Closing the gender digital divide, opening opportunities for women in agriculture

by and

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are promoted as an equaliser of opportunities – but this is not always the case for women. Several African initiatives are demonstrating the critical contribution that information and knowledge can make to increase agricultural productivity and run a profitable agribusiness.

Women farmers and agripreneurs must take action to influence global development agendas

by

Throughout history, women have made gains in control of their selves, assets and visibility in a male dominated world, and then lost them. In those moments, like Penelope waiting for Ulysses, women unpicked and restitched the tapestry of their lives. We could be facing another of those unstitching moments right now, as women's roles and aspirations are being challenged in many arenas. It is time to recast and restitch.

Digital networking boosts financial prospects for women agripreneurs

by and

It might keep the world fed, but there is little appetite for financing farming and farmers. Women in farming count access to finance as top of their challenges. Many run informal businesses. Expanding them into large operations comes with a long list of demands, including access to funding, collateral, business skills and a record of farming accomplishment. Digital technologies can help to boost prospects for women agripreneurs.

Delivering ‘bundles’ of services offers boost to women agripreneurs

by and

Women are major players in Africa’s agriculture sector, but have to overcome a number of hurdles in developing and running successful farming businesses. Providing packages of services, including access to land and finance, business skills, extension advisory services and effective markets will support more women entrepreneurs in carving a place in agribusiness, a thriving sector touted to unlock new jobs, higher incomes and more robust livelihoods.

Be sure you don't miss our latest updates.