New Faces New Voices is a pan African advocacy group that focuses on expanding the role and influence of women in the financial sector. “For us to have inclusive growth,” said NFVF Executive Director Nomsa Daniels, “we can’t afford to leave 50% of the population behind.” This belief that women have the potential to deliver a significant contribution to economic growth in Africa drives the organisation’s mandate. In 2015, the organisation identified the need to bring women into the formal banking sector to enable them to have access to financial services. NFNV Uganda Chapter director Theopista Ntale had been a banker for over 20 years, and therefore, understood the sector. “She also saw how the banking sector does not really serve women who are not able to access the full range of services,” explained Daniels. In Uganda, as in many African countries, there are clear gender inequalities in the finance sector with the majority of women lacking access to financial services and remaining unbanked and financially excluded.
The 2013, FinScope Uganda’s national survey on demand, usage, and access to financial services noted that the low usage of the formal banking products and services impacts heavily on the level of savings mobilised domestically through the financial system, which in turn affects access to credit and investment by the private sector. That survey also identified that the level of financial literacy among the adult population also remained low. “Lack of knowledge about existing financial products and services was rife among a large proportion of the adult population,” said the Finscope Report. Limited access to financial services is one of the biggest obstacles to development — especially in rural areas. Often the gap is bridged through the use of savings groups — most of whom are led by women.
Read the rest of their riveting story below, and watch the interview above for more insight into the work of the advocacy group.