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BRUSSELS, 5 September 2018 – More than 50,000 low-income Senegalese women will gain access to basic financial services like savings thanks to a new tech-savvy project by COFINA Senegal and WSBI as part of the Mastercard Foundation-funded programme to help small-scale savings work.
Outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations, African financing company COFINA will partner with MaTontine, a fintech enterprise focused on reducing poverty through the widespread adoption of digital financial services, targeting traditional savings groups in French-speaking Africa – commonly known as “tontine".
COFINA Senegal Chief Executive Officer Amadou Boudia Gueye said: “The project will enable disadvantaged low-income segments of the population, especially women, to acquire a stable culture of saving and give them an easier access to lending and other services through the use of new technology."
The project aims to conduct all the tontines' financial transactions digitally via mobile phones through the MaTontine platform. In addition, COFINA will facilitate access to small loans – packaged as advances on earnings – and other financial services to the individual members of the traditional savings groups. By 2022, the project foresees women making up 90 per cent of the more than 48,000 active customers signed up. More than 24,000 small loans will be granted during that period and savings collected reaching US$429,000. The project also aims to build up people's mindset towards savings and provide a pathway to access small loans and beyond, including microinsurance.
Financial inclusion challenge in Senegal, especially for women
There is huge potential to widen inclusion in Senegal, home to some 15 million inhabitants. Just 15 percent of the population aged 15 years or older have an account at a financial institution, according to the latest FINDEX data. That figure is lower for women at 11 per cent in the same age bracket, a demographic that comprises some 5.5 million people and a literacy rate of 46.6 per cent versus 69.7 per cent for men. That will mean creative approaches through mobile accounts, which today has a market take up of only six per cent of the total 15+ population. Appetite for savings is high, with 59 per cent of that same segment saving money in some form. Only 6.6 per cent of whom squirrel it away at a bank or other deposit-taking financial institution.
WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose said: “The project is important because it helps lower the financial inclusion barrier that women face thanks to COFINA's gender-based approach. It will lift women's lives in urban and rural areas living on less than US$5 dollars a day who face generally more exclusion than men."
The pilot phase will begin immediately in two areas of the Dakar region.
COFINA's mission is to create added value for our partners and participate sustainably in the development of the African continent. Founded in 2014, COFINA Senegal has a network of seven branches, 40 Cash Points and 200 sub-agents. Its ambition is to expand nationwide. Its customer portfolio revolves around 47,407 customers made up of small- and medium-sized businesses, young people, women, private individuals and start-ups. In four years, COFINA Senegal has carved out a leading position in the Senegalese financial services market with a 15% share of the microfinance institution (MFI) market.
COFINA's strategic priorities until 2022 are to strengthen human resources and technological capabilities; simplify our organisation to achieve efficiency; enhance close relationships with our customers and regulators; and double the customer portfolio (individuals) in Senegal to 100,000 customers.
About Groupe COFINA
Groupe COFINA comprises six microfinance institutions branded as Cofina Sénégal, Cofina Guinée, Crédit Solidaire du Gabon, Compagnie Africaine de Crédit en Côte d'Ivoire, Cofina Mali and Cofina Congo. This network aims to develop financial solutions to boost SMEs and entrepreneurs and do so in a secure way to nourish business projects by the middle class population. Groupe COFINA is also specialised in meso-finance, with the goal of being the reference pan-African financial inclusion model and driving the continent's sustainable development efforts with maximum social impact.
About WSBI, the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute
WSBI represents the interests of 6,000 savings and retail banks globally, with total assets of $15 trillion and serving some 1.3 billion customers in nearly 80 countries (as of 2016). WSBI focuses on international regulatory issues that affect the savings and retail banking industry. It supports the aims of the G20 in achieving sustainable, inclusive, and balanced growth, and job creation, whether in industrialised or less developed countries. WSBI favours an inclusive form of globalization that is just and fair, supporting international efforts to advance financial access and financial usage for everyone. Learn more at: www.wsbi-esbg.org
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