Lack of access to financial services and capital is a significant barrier for women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. With an adult population of 84.7 million (of which only 30% are banked) and with more than 159 million phone subscriptions, there is great potential for agent banking and other models which enable remote access to financial services in Nigeria. Our 2011 research, Women Entrepreneurs in Mobile Retail Channels, demonstrates that the retail channels of mobile operators provide women with rich opportunity to engage in industry and create income, and innovations such as mobile money mean that these opportunities now extend to the financial services sector.
In partnership with Visa, First Bank Nigeria and Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF), the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women provided 2,500 women entrepreneurs in Nigeria with the opportunity to become agents in the retail network of First Bank Nigeria, a leading financial services provider in the country. First Bank Nigeria provided the women entrepreneurs with training on the mobile banking products and agency business. In addition, YTF delivered capacity-building entrepreneurship training to the women.
The project was rolled-out across ten states in Nigeria and, since it launched, 1,600 women have become active Firstmonie banking agents. These women agents are, in turn, providing Nigerians living in rural and underserved areas with branchless banking and mobile financial services.
‘This partnership enables a greater number of women entrepreneurs to enter the rapidly growing mobile money sector, and in turn reach thousands of other women with mobile financial services.’
– Stephen Kehoe, SVP, Head of Global Financial Inclusion at Visa
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of FBN Holdings Plc, is Nigeria’s leading financial services institution by total assets and gross earnings and one of the largest corporate and retail banking financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa). Firstmonie, FirstBank’s mobile money solution is designed to enhance financial inclusion and cater for millions of Nigeria’s unbanked citizens, as well as align with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s policy to promote a cashless or cash-lite economy in Nigeria.
Founded in 2000 as an international non-profit organisation, Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) has a successful track record of partnering with communities to develop effective, appropriate and sustainable technology-based outcomes. YTF’s strength lies in the ability to access market demands, design developmental programs, provide linkages that accelerate business opportunities and administer customized ICT and entrepreneurship training programs for youth and women.