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Summit ‘24 Insights: Data Driving Women’s Financial Inclusion

Thursday 27th June 2024

Members of the Women’s Financial Inclusion Data (WFID) Partnership and the WE Finance Code Community of Champions, including financial sector regulators and policymakers from 33 countries, gathered at the 2024 Annual Summit to discuss their strategies to support women’s financial inclusion, in particular the role that sex-disaggregated supply side data is taking to inform policy design. Four main takeaways:

1. National Gender Data Dashboards Are a Win-Win 

National WFID dashboards have been developed by the Central Bank of Nigeria and Bangladesh Bank (Central Bank) as a core part of work underway in partnership with the Alliance and impact consulting firm ConsumerCentriX to enhance gender measurement and expand market insights. The dashboards centralize supply-side sex-disaggregated data from different sources within each country—including financial services providers (FSPs) and credit bureaus—into automatically updated online repositories, visualized into easily digestible formats. 

Commenting on the dashboard’s use, Central Bank of Nigeria’s Sophia Abu noted that it “presents FSPs with opportunities; helps them to understand, innovate, and gain a competitive advantage.” This was echoed by Access Bank Nigeria’s Abiodun Olibutan, who noted that the dashboard helps the bank focus their efforts and deploy resources more effectively. Bangladesh Bank’s Dr. Md. Habibur Rahman highlighted how their dashboard is helping its role as a regulator make better use of its data. By bringing data to a single place and in a digestible format, it has become a powerful tool to inform decision-making.

The Alliance is building on its work in Nigeria and Bangladesh to develop national dashboards in several other countries. 

2. Better Policy Design Using Sex-Disaggregated Data

WFID partners shared how sex-disaggregated data is being used by regulators to craft more effective policy interventions to close the gender gap.

In Honduras, data prompted the Central Bank to reduce documentation requirements for opening basic accounts and to enable remittance deposits into these accounts, 67% of which are received by women.In Bangladesh, when banks struggled to meet the Central Bank’s requirement that 15% of total loan volume go to women, they modified key policies such as allowing women to act as co-guarantors and to borrow without collateral. In Colombia, the Central Bank not only tracks supply-side gender data at the aggregate level, but also evaluates the performance of individual reporting FSPs and awards those with strong financial inclusion programs special “stamps”, incentivizing more banks to develop gender inclusive products. And in Nigeria, supply-side data showed the Central Bank that women made up just 20% of the country’s banking agents, yet demand-side data underscored that women customers felt more comfortable working with female agents. This led the Central Bank to incentivize banks to hire more female agents. 

3. Alliance members are leading national Women Entrepreneurs Finance (WE Finance) Codes

In a strong demonstration of Alliance members’ roles as the banks of choice for women in their respective markets, examples were shared of how members are galvanizing their national ecosystems to sign up to the WE Finance Code, which is being piloted in over 25 countries.

In the Dominican Republic, the second country outside of the UK to sign up, Dalma Hernandez from the Dominican Bankers Association highlighted the role played by Alliance member Banco BHD in getting commitment from the highest levels of government to sign the Code. This included a national launch at Alliance Summit 2023 to which the country’s President, relevant Ministers, private sector CEOs and trade associations signed on. Dalma spoke about the role her organization is playing in supporting all its bank members to sign up and report. 

In the Netherlands, Chantal Korteweg of ABN AMRO shared why her bank decided to lead the launch of Code-V – the Dutch iteration of the WE Finance Code– and the many early successes in getting 70+ organizations to sign on so far. 

In Jordan, Bank al Etihad is firmly championing the Code, with CEO Nadia Al Saeed noting, “SMEs are 96% of the economy, and women constitute 25% of that. A bigger pie is better for everyone.” 

4. Lessons from the UK for WE Finance Code 

The day after the Summit, WE Finance Code anchors from multiple countries joined an immersive one-day study tour to learn from the experience of the UK’s Investing in Women Code, in place since 2019 and an inspiration for the global WE Finance Code. 

Since the Investing in Women Code was launched, the UK has seen a three-fold increase in the number of women starting a business each year from 50,000 to 150,000. Aggregate data is reported annually and promotes conversation and action among stakeholders. For example, the most recent report shows that while there is no credit rationing between male and female entrepreneurs, women are asking for lower loan amounts, prompting Code signatory and Alliance member NatWest to pilot an ‘ask for more’ campaign to get women to do just that. 

The UK Study Tour was part of a learning program facilitated by the Alliance on behalf of WE-Fi to support the successful implementation of the WE Finance Code globally. 

For more on how the Alliance is supporting WE Finance Code rollout, click here.

Watch the Summit panels: 

  1. National Gender Data Dashboards 
  2. WE Finance Code: Lessons from First Country Adopters