Opportunities exist for women entrepreneurs with digital know how
12 months ago, 12 Jan 14:14
According to a study released recently by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the increased use of mobile money services has lifted 2 per cent of Kenyan households from extreme poverty in the past nine years. The study further states that women-headed households have especially benefitted from mobile money services through improved financial management in terms of savings, and formation of more diverse risk-sharing networks. This has made women who previously did not have access to banks and financial institutions have better control of their money, did away with middlemen in money transfer, better protect themselves against economic shocks through services such as M-Shwari and KCB M-Pesa – through which they can save and borrow, and in the end made them economically resilient. Economists Taveet Suri and William Jack, from MIT, say that the services have increased daily per capita consumption levels of many poor homes from survival level of less than Ksh125 ($1.25) a day. Mobile money services have shown us the transformational power of the digital economy and I am especially happy that women have been the major beneficiaries of the transformations we have witnessed so far. There is an incredible amount of possibility that the digital economy bears for women, both as creators and beneficiaries. Women entrepreneurs have, before them, opportunities unlike any they have had before. The digital economy can be the best tool to use to reduce the gap between men’s and women’s participation in the financial sector, increasing both the volume and the value of transactions. Although we now have access to better-quality and better-tailored financial services through digital services, particularly microfinance, we still have a long way to go to catch up with our male counterparts. Some of our limitations are inherent, it has been scientifically proven we are more risk averse than men, but we have, for the first time, an environment where starting a business does not require you to fill forms asking if you are married to qualify for a loan and you do not have to pay middlemen to get a business licence. All that is needed is for you to have a computer, internet connection and a mobile service provider’s line for money transfer. You can register online and pay for your license and you are good for business. Therefore, the immediate result of the digital revolution is that we now have at least the avenue to be part of a country’s labour force because we can access opportunities remotely and manage businesses through the digital financial solutions. Financial inclusion The greater resultant financial autonomy women have is good for the overall improvement of the quality of life of the household. The Global Findex, which is the world’s most comprehensive database on financial inclusion, shows that in developing economies, women are less likely than men to have formal bank accounts and less likely to have borrowed formally (2014). Women may also not be able to own property, complicating their ability to provide security. Mobile money accounts have made great ...
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