SaveAct programme manager Nolufefe Nonjeke-Dlanjwa was a speaker at the first SADC Gender Workshop, held in Johannesburg on March 28-29.
The gathering brought together different stakeholders that work with the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) network, to share different initiatives on improving financial inclusion for women taking place in their countries.
FSD Africa is a R662-million financial sector development programme funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). The programme aims to “reduce poverty across sub-Saharan Africa by building financial markets that are efficient, robust and inclusive”.In South Africa, FSD is represented by FinMark Trust.
At the workshop regulators from Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe shared the progress being made from a regulatory and policy perspective through the development of national financial inclusion strategies that have a gender focus.
Nonjeke-Dlanjwa spoke about how SaveAct fills a significant gap by providing a mechanism for the empowerment of low-income women. Through savings groups, they are able to save safely, access credit and grow their income.
The impact of these groups on their lives is significant: a study conducted last year by SaveAct and FinMark Trust found that members, 90% of whom are women, feel more independent, learn how to manage their money, are more financially stable and enjoy a more collaborative and harmonious relationship with their partners, as a result of their experience in the groups.
In response to questions from the audience, Nonjeke-Dlanjwa said the advent of digital financial innovations provides an opportunity for savings groups and stokvels to be integrated into the formal sector.
“I have received a lot of positive feedback and acknowledgment of our work,” she said after the workshop. “For this, we have Finmark to thank, they are really rallying behind our work.
“We must push on with the digital work and learn from other countries. South Africa is very behind when it comes to digital financial services.”