More than two billion people across the world continue to stay unbanked. One of the biggest reasons for that exclusion is accessibility. In developing countries in particular, low-income groups tend to get left out of the fold because they don't have access to basic banking services. But now, as simple services like mobile banking have proven to help people transition out of poverty in Africa, organizations are starting to focus on the financial inclusion of vulnerable communities. When a buyer enters an online inquiry, the system generates a text message that taps into the farmer community.
The third edition of the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) has listed three African countries as global leaders in terms of women-owned businesses. Uganda, Ghana and Botswana are ranked as the top three countries with the highest percentages of women-owned businesses across the 58 markets evaluated around the world. Based on publicly available data from international organizations including the International Labour Organization, UNESCO and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the global Index tracks the progress and achievements of women entrepreneurs and business owners at three levels: (i) Women's Advancement Outcomes, (ii) Knowledge Assets & Financial Access, and (iii) Supporting Entrepreneurial Factors. The results reaffirmed that women are able to make further business inroads and have higher labour force participation rates in open and vibrant markets where the support for SMEs and ease of doing business are high. They are also able to draw from enabling resources, including access to capital, financial services and academic programs.
Agriculture finance represents an important element of eradicating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, smallholders manage over 80% of the world's estimated 500 million small farms and provide over 80% of the food consumed in a significant part of the developing world, making a major contribution to poverty reduction and food security. Most smallholder farms are in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and in both regions over 80% of farmland is managed by smallholders. Even though these farmers are generally characterized by limited resources--particularly in terms of land--and dependence on household members for farm labor, they represent a critical part of food systems in developing countries. In light of the size and importance of the smallholder farming sector, the development community has a growing focus on providing these farmers with the funding they need to thrive.
Financial technology, aka FinTech, has changed the landscape of the financial sector around the globe by promoting greater inclusion, economic growth and other national and global development goals. The rapidly evolving FinTech developments offer unprecedented opportunities for financially excluded or the underserved consumers around the world than the traditional banking system could ever provide, and thereby, catalyzing efforts, not only to achieve the Universal Financial Access goal set for 2020, but also playing a big role in achieving many of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including the SDG 1 i.e. poverty eradication, zero hunger (SDG 2), gender equality (SDG 5), promoting economic growth and jobs (SDG8). Rapid technological advancement and increasing penetration of mobile phones and the internet has facilitated 24/7 access to financial services, especially in the hard-to-reach areas where traditional or brick-and-mortar bank branches can't offer services. Mobile banking offers services such as account creation (with or without linking to a financial institution), fund transfer, bill payments, transaction review, bank account management, online purchases etc with great convenience, ease to access, security and much more, anytime, anywhere. Mobile banking offers unprecedented opportunities for access and usage of basic financial services such as bank account, payment services.
Information and communication technology (ICT) interventions are increasingly being used in developing countries to enable economic growth, employment, and empowerment. There is, however, growing agreement that the impact of ICTs in the Global South is not gender neutral but amplifies the existing gender inequalities within these countries.2,7 This is also true for Pakistan and India, where most ICT interventions deployed have largely ignored the unique needs of the female Pakistani (48.63%) and Indian populations (48.53%). Multi-country research on the impact of ICTs reveals their great potential for bringing about positive socioeconomic change and gains in economic growth.9 Similarly, studies reveal ICTs are one of the main drivers of economic growth in Asia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan African.3,8