Plight of the Unbanked Women in Emerging Markets is Focus of Visa

Plight of the Unbanked Women in Emerging Markets is Focus of Visa

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 1:45pm


While there are Chase, TD Bank and Citi branches on virtually every corner in Manhattan, attendees at a United Nations women’s empowerment conference today in New York are being reminded that 2.5 billion people are still unbanked.

The topic of financial inclusion is a theme at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s International Women’s Day Forum.  Several hundred corporate, non-profit and CSR professionals are attending the event.

Douglas Sabo, vice president and head of global corporate philanthropy and responsibility for Visa, said the credit card giant is focused on the detrimental impact to women when they do not have access to banking services.

“Women tend to be the CFOs in the household in the emerging markets around the world,” Sabo said, adding that women comprise the majority of the 2.5 million people who do not have bank accounts. 

“They are the ones who have to figure out how to make the daily financial transactions work—when money is coming in from a microloan, a government subsidy, when money needs to go out to put food on the table, to pay for school fees, to fix a roof,” Sabo added. “So they are bearing the brunt of the cost of a household being unbanked.”

Visa is working with partners in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Southeast Asia and Latin America to find innovative ways to bring secure credit and banking technology to underserved populations, focusing on women, said Sabo.  Mobile phone usage is pervasive even in the most rural communities, but Sabo indicated women are far less likely to own a phone then men.

Co-presenters on Sabo’s panel, “Expanding Financial Inclusion: New Tools for Inclusion,” included Anna Gincherman, chief product development officer, Women’s World Banking; Nathalie Roberts, director, Her Project; and Henriette Kolb, head IFC gender secretariat at International Finance Corp.

By Dave Armon, CMO, 3BL Media