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Mobile money helps close the gender gap in financial services

Mobile money has had the biggest impact on closing the gender gap in access to financial services in Kenya, deputy central bank governor Sheila M’Mbijiwe has said.

Ownership of the mobile phone and the access it provides to financial services have left women nearly at par with men, Ms M’Mbijiwe said, citing statistics indicating that mobile money coverage among women stands at 71 per cent compared to 79 per cent for men.

This is eight percentage points shy of male coverage, making mobile money an exception because women normally lag behind men in most segments of the economy, including ownership of bank accounts, by a greater margin.

“As women, we spend most of our lives in a minority position and suddenly you find a product (mobile money) that does not place us in that class,” said Ms M’Mbijiwe.

“For most (financial products), women are 30 to 40 percentage points behind men. The 71 per cent scenario is not perfect because we still have regions such as Marsabit, Kakuma and Wajir, where mobile coverage is inadequate leaving women at a disadvantage.” Women account for more than half of the world’s population but their contribution to national economies continues to lag behind men, a reality that mobile money services look set to change.

Ms M’Mbijiwe was speaking at a breakfast forum hosted by the Business Daily to mark the launch of the newspaper’s look, celebrate its 10th anniversary and introduce the new publication to industry leaders, analysts and investors.

Nation Media Group chief executive Joe Muganda said the redesigned paper will continue to focus on key economic issues but repackage it for digitally-savvy consumers.

“The Business Daily has become a prime source of information for anybody looking to understand the Kenyan economy and outlook,” Mr Muganda said during the “Power Breakfast” yesterday.

“NMG is shifting our efforts to serve a growing number of digitally savvy consumers in all our publications. It is our pursuit of this consumer that informed the Business Daily’s redesign.” The new-look paper is easier on the eye, rich in graphics, with more in-depth content aimed at improving the consumer’s understanding of the local, national and regional economy.

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