"The focus of efforts to boost women's financial inclusion should shift beyond product innovation to address the underlying drivers of gender gaps."
For Nigeria to achieve its <a target="_blank" href="https://www.cbn.gov.ng/out/2019/ccd/national%20financial%20inclusion%20strategy.pdf">National Financial Inclusion Strategy</a> (NFIS) target, it has to breach the gender gap, a report has stated.
The report, which was jointly published by the<a target="_blank" href="https://www.cbn.gov.ng/"> Central Bank of Nigeria</a> (CBN) and Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), is titled 'Assessment of Women's Financial Inclusion in Nigeria' and was released on Monday.
It noted that Nigeria has a larger gender gap when compared to countries in Africa such as Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda which it said are exhibiting a decreasing gender gap.
It said women are less likely to be formally included than men, even when controlling for levels of income, education and trust.
"Given the NFIS's ambition to increase formal inclusion as the preferred status, it is vital to look beyond absolute exclusion and to understand the gendered drivers of these differences when designing interventions," the report said.
Nigeria in 2012 introduced the NFIS towards its plans of becoming one of the world's largest economies.
The goal of the strategy is to increase the number of Nigerians with access to financial services from 30 per cent to 80 per cent by 2020.
According to the latest figures from the EFInA Department of the CBN, about 36.6 million Nigerian adults, representing 36.8 per cent of the adult population, do not have access to formal financial services.
The report said interventions focused on increasing and deepening women's financial inclusion must focus on three key areas.
To achieve sustainable change, it said these may be complemented by subsidy efforts to provide services in the meantime.
"First, the focus of efforts to boost women's financial inclusion should shift beyond product innovation to address the underlying drivers of gender gaps, through more systematic efforts to address women's incomes and economic empowerment, education, and boosting trust in Financial Services Providers.
"Our analysis suggests that these are key to closing gender gaps and improving the financial inclusion of women.
"Second, ideally in parallel with the first point noted above, targeted collaboration across stakeholders is needed to understand and identify options for improving the commercial viability of serving financially excluded women, even in the absence of improved income, education, and trust in Financial Services Providers. Such an effort would need to outline the degree to which commercial viability is actually lacking and then determine interventions that could 'tip the balance'.
"Lastly, stakeholders who choose to provide financial products and services to excluded women who, despite efforts in the first two categories, do not present commercial viability (yet), must recognise that, until viability is reached, such services will require subsidies. In any case, product offerings must be relevant, not just 'aspirational', and must meet women 'where they are."
It said the offerings must be suited to women's low current levels of income, education, and trust in Financial Services Providers.
"Ideally, to achieve lasting impact, they should be designed to increase women's low current levels of income, education, and trust in FSPs."