KAMPALA – Ugandan Financial Technology (FinTech) companies have been advised to involve more women in the conceptualization, designing and development of Fintech products and solutions that can tap into the underserved market segment of Ugandan women entrepreneurs.
Damali Ssali, a Chartered Accountant, Business and Trade Development Expert, says that in a country where 48 per cent of all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are owned by women, it is paramount to develop financial inclusion solutions spearheaded by women.
“Over 70 per cent of informal cross border trader women need access to affordable fintech solutions. That segment is a ready market for innovative fintech solutions which can only be designed and developed through greater increase in women in fintech processes,” Ssali said while delivering a key note address titled Women in FinTech – the Case of Uganda at the maiden Women in Fintech Summit held at Sheraton Kampala Hotel on Friday 18th September under the theme fostering leadership, innovation and championing women empowerment.
The summit was the culmination of a week-long Women in FinTech Hackathon where 15 women-led teams met between 12th and 17th September 2020 to conceptualize and develop different financial inclusion products with special focus on women in areas such as payments, lending, saving, e-commerce, e-education and e-agriculture, among others.
Organized by HiPipo under the Include EveryOne program in proud partnership with ID8, Crosslake Tech, ModusBox, Mojaloop Foundation and the Level One Project; the Women in Fintech Hackathon and Summit sought to generate interoperable financial inclusion solutions for women, by women.
According to Ssali, this initiative is a step in the right direction. She, however, stressed that if Ugandan Fintechs are to design products and solutions that reflect the actual customers, then they must increase the number of women in Fintech from the current 10 per cent to 50 per cent!
At the recent 40-Days-40-Fintechs initiative organised by HiPipo, it was discovered that only 10 per cent percent of the participating Fintechs had women as their co-founders or part of their senior management.
“Therefore, having women in fintech in not only the right thing to do, and moral thing to do, but most importantly, it is the smart thing to do and the profitable thing to do!” she said.
Ssali’s argument was re-echoed by Hon Judith Nabakooba, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, who promised government support in development of ICT solutions targeting women.
“As a sector we need to implement interventions that remove roadblocks to access and usage of ICTs by women such as reducing the digital divide between urban and rural dwellers by availing ICTs to the underserved communities; promoting the digital literacy of women so that more can use ICTs,” she said in a written speech read in her absensia by Judith Odio, a Commissioner from the Ministry of ICT.
In the same vein, Adama Diallo, the Mojaloop Foundation Director and Google Head of Partnership for the next billion users project in Africa, said in a recorded video that in a world where three quarters (¾) of purchases are done by women, Fintechs urgently need to be female-centric.
Further, Kristy Duncan, the founder and CEO of Women in Payments delivered a speech under the theme Funding Wellsprings for Women in Fintech.
Kristy Duncan noted that digital financial inclusion is vitally important as it will empower women and girls to a life of equal opportunity.
“We need more women in fintech to promote innovation. Because if we don’t include women innovators, then we are only innovating with half the population,” she said.
There was also a panel discussion targeting Financial Inclusion for women at the bottom of the pyramid and all panelists agreed that such women need a simple, convenient and fit-for-purpose mobile solution.
Moderated by Ritah Kabanyoro from Smart 24 TV; the panel had Primera Muthoni – Products Specialist at MTN Uganda, Doreen Lukandwa – Head of Marketing and Customer Experience at Beyonic Uganda, Penny Kamusiime – Manager, Customer Experience at YO Uganda Limited and Stella N. Lugalambi –co-founder of Hamwe East Africa Ltd.
Nicholas Kalungi, the chief operation officer at HiPipo Foundation noted that the Women in Fintech Hackathon and Summit had succeeded both in objective and implementation. Besides being the first of its kind in Uganda, Kalungi noted that over 30 teams expressed interest in participating but only 15 were shortlisted for the Hackathon. These were Yo Uganda Limited, Team Spec, E-Moments, W-Sacco, Kanzu Code Ladies, GreenGrab, Achors, UgMart, Hack Girls, Team Kameeza, Alpteq ICT Solutions, Team Affinity, Sky Code, Team Time and Kuzimba Services. Save for one, the other 14 actively participated throughout the week.
The teams were taken through daily interactions with a pool of facilitators, mentors and assessors from all over the world who were either physically present or accessible remotely via ID8, Slack and other virtual platforms.
They were then tasked to develop simple but relevant and ready-for-market financial inclusion products targeting women.
At the Women in FinTech Summit, five teams were identified as having performed better than the rest. These were Kanzu Code, E-Moments, Anchors, Affinity and Hack Girls.
The overall winners as scored by the jury were Kanzu Code Ladies and walked home with USD 2,000 to be used to put their product on the market. They developed an online bank to ease access to finance for local women. The other 4 teams that made the top five will together share USD 2,000.
Meanwhile, HiPipo CEO – Innocent Kawooya applauded all participating teams as “all winners” and promised that there was a plan to create an innovation hub for all of them to ensure that their ideas are actualized and their products go to market.
At the summit, the HiPipo patron, Eng. David Karubanga – who is also the State Minister for Public Service and Member of Parliament for Kigorobya County applauded the organizers for thinking about Women as the world grapples to reduce the dominance of men in all sectors. He also promised government support in fulfilling this dream of enhancing women financial inclusion.
- Globally, women entrepreneurs are 30% less likely to have access to sufficient funding for their businesses.
- However, Women entrepreneurs continue to receive only a small fraction of the total capital available for SME investment across Africa generally and Uganda specifically.
- In Uganda, bank lending is dominated by the corporate sector and typically excludes lending to those employed outside of the formal sector, or to small and micro businesses, areas in which women are more likely to be employed.
- In 2018, Bank of Uganda reported in that informal cross border trade stood at USD595million and Uganda registered a trade surplus.
- In 2015, a McKinsey and Company study indicated that companies that had a balanced and inclusive workforce were 33% more likely to have better than average profits.
- A Boston Consulting Group study indicated that companies with a balanced and inclusive senior management teams had 19% higher revenues due to innovation