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African Development Bank

The African Development Bank on February 9, approved two grants for research to improve African women’s access to digital financial services such as loans and micro-insurance.

The $1 million and $300,000 grants, respectively, will be given through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility to two fintech firms, Pula Advisors Kenya Ltd. and M-KOPA Kenya Ltd.

Pula Advisors will use the $1 million to research social, cultural, and economic factors that impact women farmers’ access to microinsurance in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia.

The research will form the basis for the creation and enforcement of gender-centric insurance products.

The project is expected to be completed within three years.

Sheila Okiro, the bank’s Coordinator for ADFI said, “This grant funding will be used to leverage technology to develop innovative and responsive loan and insurance products that can spur productivity and inclusion, especially for our women smallholder farmers and traders,”

In the three-year time frame, the project is divided into three phases: product development, piloting, and scaling.

The project expects to reach 360,000 farmers, of which 50 percent of them would be women, and improve farm yields by up to 30 percent.

In turn, this is expected to increase incomes and national food security.

Kenyan firm M-KOPA will use the $300,000 grant funding for research involving 250 women and 250 men in Kenya’s Kisumu, Eldoret, and Machakos counties.

According to a statement by AfDB, the company will look into the hurdles and difficulties women face in accessing digital financial services and literacy programs and creating a financial services app relevant to small-scale women traders based on its findings.

The facility was formally launched in June 2019 at the bank’s Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Its partners include the French Development Agency, the French Treasury’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the AfDB.