Did you know that poor women account for 1.1 billion of the world’s unbanked adults, or most of the financially excluded?
Financial inclusion needs to bridge gender gaps for it to become truly inclusive, and India has a long way to go in this respect.
In order for digital finance to reach rural women sustainably, there is a need to bring together stakeholders from policy, government, businesses, digital financial solution providers, community-based organisations, and funders, to discuss pathways to collaboration for sustained outcomes.
To achieve this, L&T Financial Services and Sattva have taken a bold first step in focusing their efforts on digital financial inclusion of women in rural India through the conception of ‘Finclusion: Empowering Women Through Digital Finance’ – a participatory dialogue on learnings, gaps and potential to harness digital financial inclusion for rural women in India.
The summit took place on 1st February, 2019 in New Delhi. The round table also included two panel discussions around “Partnerships for effective delivery of financial inclusion” and “Role of Women change agents in empowering communities through digital finance.”
A white paper titled “Finclusion – Empowering Women through Digital Financial Inclusion” was released at the summit in the presence of Prasanta Kumar Swain, Jt Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Gokul Patnaik (Retd IAS), Dr Leena Srivastava, Vice Chancellor, TERI School of Advanced Studies and Rathish Balakrishnan, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Sattva.
The white paper identifies the issues and barriers, especially for rural women, in adopting digital finance and offers tangible solutions to facilitate more women into the world of digital finance.
Manoj Shenoy, CE, Wealth Management & Group Head CSR – L&T Financial Services said, “Digital financial inclusion is a multi-step process with basic financial literacy being the first, leading to digital financial literacy and inclusion. We believe the learnings from the Digital Sakhi Programme that are documented through this white paper will provide all stakeholders a window to the advantages of onboarding rural women into the world of digital finance and the transformative effect it can have on the country.”
The Digital Sakhi programme was first launched in three districts of Maharashtra – Pune, Osmanabad and Solapur, in June 2017. The year-end assessment survey conducted in these areas, showed marked improvements as compared to the baseline study conducted prior to the launch of the programme. Some of the highlights:
a). 36% increase in use of digital modes of payments in the programme villages
b). 60% increase in volume of work of the women entrepreneurs
c) 8% increase in overall annual revenues of the women entrepreneurs
d) 100000+ community members sensitized on digital modes of payments
Awareness about digital modes of payments viz. prepaid cards, mobile wallets, United Payment Interface (UPI), Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), internet and mobile banking as well as Aadhar Enabled Payment Service (AEPS) has also increased.
The greatest achievement of the Digital Sakhi programme has been the inclusion of women in the household financial decision-making process. Prior to the programme, all major household financial decisions were taken mostly by the ‘Male head of the household’.
The recent survey found that more members of the household, especially the women, are actively participating in the financial decisions of the entire family.