5 April 2019
Gender and youth were highlighted as crucial for financial inclusion during the 14th Financial Inclusion Strategy Peer Learning Group FISPLG) and 12th SME Finance Working Group (SMEFWG) Meetings in Zambia.
Co-hosted by the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) from 1-4 April, the meetings were attended by more than 100 representatives from 52 member institutions in emerging and developing countries
“We still have the gender gap to manage,” AFI Deputy Executive Director (DED) Norbert Mumba stressed at the closing of the working group meetings in Livingstone . “In all our interventions, we need to take into account the issue of gender.”
In the digital era, youth are a key driver of change and policymakers must adapt in order to keep up with new innovations, particularly in countries with young populations, emphasized Mumba. Host nation Zambia, for example, has a median age 17 years – well below the global average of 30.
Bank of Uganda and FISPLG Co-Chair Mackay Aomu also highlighted that financial inclusion policies must be designed to attract younger generations and made it easier for them to access formal financial services products.
“Meaningful inclusive growth means to bring the youth on board,” he said during a convergence session on youth and financial inclusion. “As policymakers and regulators, we need to reduce the barriers, but this requires a multi-stakeholder coordination.”
Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas’s (BSP) Jenny Romero reiterated the need for external support in financial education, saying: “We can’t, in our own capacity, conduct all the financial literacy activities. It will be more sustainable to find partners who can do it on a larger scale.”
During the working group convergence, members discussed issues around youth and financial inclusion, bringing the informal sector onboard and advancing financial inclusion in the rural areas. Following the deliberations, a new subgroup was formed to focus on the informal sector – led by Khaled Bassiouny from Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) – and another on rural financial inclusion – led by Fatouh Deen-Touray from the Central Bank of The Gambia.
In other developments, BoZ’s Mankolo Beyani took over as chair of SMEFWG, while BSP’s Ellen Joyce was elected as the second co-chair.
During earlier closed sessions, the working groups focused on their individual thematic and cross-cutting topics, such as small and medium enterprise (SME) finance, climate risk insurance and women’s saving groups. CBE and BoZ shared their experiences on the formulation and development of a comprehensive sex-disaggregated data framework focusing on the methodology and lessons learned in developing the data framework. The meetings ended with a study trip to a local cottage industry.
BoZ Director Freda Tamba delivered the closing remarks, in which she thanked participants for attending the working group meetings, a sentiment echoed by AFI’s Mumba.
“I want to thank the BoZ for hosting this meeting and for hosting it very well,” he said, following up his words by extending invitations to the upcoming Global Policy Forum (GPF) in Rwanda’s capital. The flagship event will showcase the experience of the East African state and highlight how the use of technology will bring progress in financial inclusion of the most vulnerable groups, especially women and youth.
“See you in Kigali!”
Working groups are key to developing knowledge that can be turned into guidelines or knowledge products to help members in the implementation and development of policy regulations for financial inclusion. AFI has six working groups: FIS, SMEF, Consumer Empowerment and Market Conduct (CEMC), Digital Financial Services Working Group (DFS), Financial Inclusion Data (FID) and Global Standards Proportionality (GPS). Each meets officially twice a year – at a standalone event and then ahead of the annual GPF – but continue to develop outputs throughout the year.
About Bank of Zambia (BoZ)
Since joining the network in 2010, the BoZ has been an active member of the AFI network. Based in the country’s capital of Lusaka, the central bank’s NFIS commits the institution to nearly doubling the rate of formal financial inclusion to 70 percent by 2022 from 38 percent in 2017.
About Financial Inclusion Strategy Peer Learning Group (FISPLG)
FISPLG is a peer learning group that supports countries in developing and implementing financial inclusion strategies. It guides members by promoting a unified vision and shared goals among public and private stakeholders. It facilitates peer reviews of draft strategies and action plans, develops joint guidance on national strategies and supports the capacity of members to develop and implement financial inclusion strategies, including by connecting them with expert stakeholders.
About SME Finance (SMEF) Working Group
The working group provides a unique forum for policymakers to discuss, innovate and create smart policies that help SMEs access finance and formal financial services. Created in 2013, SMEF focuses on conducting internal surveys and developing knowledge products that measure SME access to finance. Its outcomes shed light on different policies solutions and lessons learned from the national implementation of direct interventions and programs. As such, the SMEF Working Group provides a platform to discuss the challenges and opportunities in this niche field.
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