The African Development Bank has signed a grant agreement for $500,000 with Y’ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS), a fintech subsidiary of MTN Nigeria, to be used for a study into economic, religious, and social factors hampering access to finance for women in northern Nigeria.
The research, which includes a feasibility study, women-focused design and testing, will focus on both agents and customers to provide insights into women’s use of mobile money services, will be funded through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI).
Despite being the continent’s largest economy, 55% of rural Nigerians still lack access to financial services. The rate of mobile money adoption currently stands at 4%, with an agent ratio of 228.8 agents per 1,000 adults. Political instability and conservative cultural norms in parts of Northern Nigeria are thought to present barriers to women’s access to finance. Additionally, 80% of agents in the region are men.
“The African Development Bank, through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), is delighted to support this project, furthering our work to improve the quality of life for people in Nigeria and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly as relates to poverty, and gender inclusion,” said Stefan Nalletamby, African Development Bank Director of Financial Sector Development.
On behalf of YDFS, Usoro Usoro, Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are truly excited about this partnership with the African Development Bank, and the possibilities for advancing financial inclusion in Nigeria, particularly for the traditionally excluded segment of women in Northern Nigeria.”
ADFI is a pan-African initiative designed to catalyze digital financial inclusion throughout Africa with the goal of ensuring that 332 million more Africans, 60% of them women, gain access to the formal economy. Current ADFI partners are the French Development Agency (AFD); the French Treasury’s Ministry for the Economy and Finance; The Government of Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the African Development Bank, which also hosts the fund.
Y’ello Digital Financial Services is a fintech subsidiary of MTN Nigeria, Africa’s largest provider of communications services, and the operator of MoMo Agent service. YDFS is a financial service provider in agency banking and super-agent operation under the CBN Super-Agent framework and agent banking guidelines to provide amongst other services, agent network to serve financial institutions and Mobile Money operators in Nigeria.