Bridging the financial inclusion gap: Pan-African S&L launches ‘MAMA’ to aid women

Pan-African S&L launch ‘MAMA

The Pan-African Savings and Loans Company Limited has unveiled a women-focused financial services programme dubbed ‘MAMA’ to provide some selected resources that women need to succeed in business. 

Also aimed at bridging the gap in financial inclusion by targetting unbanked women, small and medium-sized enterprise owners, smallholder farmers and the youth among others, the initiative combines approaches including savings, loans and payment products with free non-financial services. These non-financial services include business skills training, e-health and wellness services.

Speaking at the launch, Emelia Atta-Fynn – Managing Director-Pan-African Savings and Loans, explained the rationale behind this initiative: “Our research revealed that the need for non-financial services to our clients was as important as their need of relevant financial services. Women are said to be largely disadvantaged in access to finance due to a myriad of challenges – including but not limited to minimum or lack of education, low financial literacy, lack of financial institutions at localities, and gendered social norms among others.

“We then began to put together a programme that will help women overcome some of these challenges, to assist with the creation of sustainable growth opportunities for them through the provision of a finance and non-financial services format with emphasis on health care and financial and digital training – uniquely delivered in a reliable and easily accessible way.” 

According to her, Pan-African leveraged on the First+ project – a programme put together by the Mastercard Foundation, Ghana Association of Microfinance Institutions (GHAMFIN) supported by the Bank of Ghana and implemented by CapitalPlus Exchange – to push forward the company’s agenda of financial inclusion.

The MAMA products have been designed to serve specific segments of women, namely: MAMA Business – for business owners in all sectors; MAMA Agri – for women in Agriculture and agricultural value chain businesses; and MAMA Home – offering saving and investing for female home managers and caregivers. The others are MAMA Dwumadi – for women workers in the informal sector; and Young MAMA – aimed at young women who aspire to be entrepreneurs, such as young higher education graduates.

“By participating in this programme, the women will benefit from a unique bouquet of offerings: which include a bundle of existing financial products such as access to all deposit products, credit and merchant payment systems; and unique non-financial services which include training, networking, business advisory services and specialised health services,” the MD further said.

On his part, Programme Lead for CapitalPlus Exchange, Binyam Tadesse, reiterated his outfit’s position on impacting women in businesses.

He also lamented the low percentage of women with active bank accounts, even though they own the majority of businesses in the country.

“One of our key objectives is to increase women’s access to finance, which is especially important in Ghana where women own a higher percentage of businesses – 44 percent of all Ghanaian businesses – than almost anywhere else in the world. Even though women own so many businesses, in 2021 only 31 percent of Ghanaian women had an active bank account whereas 47 percent of men had active bank accounts – a 15 percent difference.  And, sadly, the percentage of women having active accounts in 2021 was 7 percent lower than in 2017. 

“Given the large number of women owning businesses, increasing their access to loans is key to creating jobs and improving Ghana’s economic prosperity,” he noted.

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