Mapping opportunities for women SMEs to access financial products from financial institutions and other service providers

EPRN Rwanda is collaborating with Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation to map to opportunities for women SMEs to access financial products from financial institutions and other service providers.

The aim is to map available financial institutions and other service providers with products that are gender responsive and specifically address women’s needs in relation to access to finance. The findings of the mapping will inform a practical and easy-to-understand communication tool that educates and provides guideline to women SMEs, women’s rights organizations and other organizations supporting women SMEs.

Rwanda has achieved a relatively high level of financial inclusion, as indicated by the 2020 Rwanda FinScope survey. The survey revealed that approximately 93 percent of the adult population, which is equivalent to about seven million people, are included in the formal or informal financial system. The gender gap is minimal, standing at just one percentage point.

The gender gap in Rwanda becomes more pronounced when examining access to and usage of formal financial services, which encompass banking products, mobile money, microfinance institution products, and savings and credit cooperative organizations (SACCOs). Overall, 77 percent of the adult population uses formal financial services, but women are slightly behind men, with 74 percent of women compared to 81 percent of men utilizing these services.

In Rwanda, there are several financial services institutions that offer women-focused products and services, aiming to empower and support women economically. These institutions recognize the specific financial needs and challenges faced by women and have designed products to address these needs. Challenges associated with women-focused financial products include reaching marginalized and rural women, ensuring financial literacy, and addressing gender biases in financial services. Opportunities lie in partnerships, innovative outreach strategies, and tailored financial education to empower women economically and promote financial inclusion.

However, most of women fail to get information to those opportunities with due to limited marketing of some financial institutions or due to inadequate communication tools/channels which are not benefiting all women including those who can’t read and write.

Therefore, this assignment will help to map out financial institutions which have financial products that are gender responsive and will benefit women SMEs in formal and informal sectors ; and to make this information easily accessible for education and reference through development of a communication tool to be used by women SMEs, and organizations supporting women SMEs.