Promoting Women and Youth Financial Inclusion for Entrepreneurship and Job Creation
Guinea, a country of roughly 12.4 million people with a bank account penetration rate of 15 percent as of 2017, has made modest gains in reducing financial exclusion levels since 2011, despite being hit by the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). A disproportionate number of the unbanked are women, youth and rural dwellers and an eight percent account ownership gap between men and women remains. The Global Findex also indicates that only 13.0 percent of the youth have an account at a formal financial institution, compared with 14.6 percent for the entire population. Emerging research indicates that the failure to close the gender and youth gap in access to finance represents a massive loss of output and potential – especially for the youth: it undermines their lifetime productivity and earnings potential, making it difficult for them to escape poverty.
Under a grant from the International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada, the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) – an economic policy institute headquartered in Accra, Ghana – partnered with Ayani B.V., a consultancy firm in Guinea, to assess the effectiveness of financial sector initiatives in advancing women’s and youth’s financial inclusion.
The study’s emphasis was to diagnose the state of financial inclusion of adult women and youth in Guinea, gauge the impact of different approaches, and draw lessons for policy makers, regulators and service providers to enhance entrepreneurship and job opportunities for women and youth.
Following the African Union definition, this study defined youth as individuals aged between 15 and 35. An analytical framework (based on the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s definitive framework) helped assess financial inclusion among women and youth using four indicators (Access, Usage, Quality, and Welfare improvements). The data collection phase involved a survey and focus group discussions (FGDs) among Guinean women, female and male youth in both rural and urban settings. The study engaged experts from government ministries, regulatory bodies and private sector banks, microfinance and other non-bank financial institutions along with mobile network operators (MNOs) and mobile money services.