Interesting lessons we have learned from powering finance for women
- They are aggressively seeking financial Independence
In today’s changing economy, more women in Nigeria are owning their role in their financial independence. Whether employed or running a small business, they are interested in making better financial decisions that impact them and their families. This implies that they are ready to learn and put in place structures they need to benefit from all the opportunities that financial inclusion brings. And when it comes to credit, a large number of women are guided by tales of woe. However, from our sessions with women, we believe they are ready and we are teaching them how to use credit as a tool to achieve financial independence. From our work, we have seen the conversation evolve to become more fact-based, and we have also seen the positive effect of loans on their business and life in general.
- They are impactful & loyal
We tried to keep the operation personal to make sure the process is impactful for most women and this required a combination of both business and empathy skills. We have turned down loan requests from “payable client” just on the bases that it makes no business sense for them. We have restructured loan terms to accommodate maternity leave, major surgery and we are happy that most of the women kept their word to pay their debt and we still do business together.
- Small loan size… doing big things
Most of the loan sizes are small but from looking at the outcomes, some of them are humbling at how we made some women’s dream come through. With the loans and a little business advisory, we have seen some of the women we work with literally become “wonder woman” (sorry that is the name of my daughter’s superhero costume).We have had people grow inventory, grow side hustle and even rent shops for their business. earlier this year, We gave loans to two women to rent shops, one of them was a housewife selling makeup from home and the other an Instagram retail store. The Lady with the makeup store now does a lot of beauty related activities that have grown her revenue. They never defaulted and better still they grew so much.
- Many of them (us) will keep falling through traditional banking algorithms for processing loans.
Women are really left out in the credit equation, especially in Africa. Being a woman and working with women, the reason for this point is endless; some of them take a break from work to raise the family so their bank statement would show irregular incomes. Some of them are in new trade/sectors that have not yet been recognized as a ‘serious’ business sector. Some of them would need help getting their documents together. However, don’t mistake these challenges for anything other than what they are: new terrain with not enough information to guide them.
As the market matures, women would have access to more information and the opportunities are
endless. More tailored products with data from them would also do a lot.
- It’s about the relationship
The interesting thing I’ve found when working with women is that factors like cost of the loan, and the terms of the loan, are secondary to factors such as: Can I trust this creditor to have my back? Is the loan process easy? This observation showed me why the semi-formal lenders have more women than the formal lenders and I think it also has something to do with a longing for support throughout the process — which have generally been termed abnormal — something that most of them couldn’t get within their available relationship.
This weakness has been exploited by loan sharks and has left many women in despair.
- She says; we know we wouldn’t qualify…..
Why would you be so pessimistic? Hmmm after looking through their statement with loaning algorithms most times, it is very clear why formal financial channels may not extend loans to women but for us as a credit inclusion company for women, we expect things to not be perfect. we always want to look again for a BUT, and most times, we find one. And more often than not, our But was right. For us, it immediately sends us to research mode, with the question of what should our own algorithm look like. We have identified the need for a new sector list and we are creating one, but creating an algorithm that handles all the key challenges would take a while and more data, but we are here for the long term