Women's bank to roll-out agent banking facilities

Published: 15 July 2018
THE Zimbabwe Women''s Microfinance Bank (ZWMB) is in the process of rolling out agent banking facilities as it seeks to improve financial inclusion especially in remote areas, a Cabinet official said.

Women and Youth Affairs Minister Sithembiso Nyoni said ZWMB has plans to open other branches with one in Bulawayo set to be opened by December, before moving on to Mutare and Masvingo.

The women's bank which was officially opened last month was li­censed by the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe in terms of the Mi­cro­fi­nance Act (Chap­ter 24:29), and it is a first of its kind in the Southern Africa Development Community re­gion. It has a de­lib­er­ate fo­cus on women, who con­sti­tute 52 per­cent of the coun­try's pop­u­la­tion but re­main largely ex­cluded from eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties due to lack of se­cu­rity of ten­ure.

Minister Nyoni said a number of clients, mostly women, have made ini­tial deposits through mo­bile money trans­fers while the process of setting up agent banking facilities is underway.

"Women are already banking using online platforms with a number of them opening accounts using applications on their mobile phones and there is also agent banking. The ministry together with the bank are in the process of identifying areas where we are going to set up agent banking facilities and these are mainly in remote areas where there is lack of extensive bank networks and banking halls," she said.

The agent banking model promotes financial inclusion as it enables banks to roll out their services through networks of post offices, microfinance institutions, registered co-operative societies, registered companies, agents of mobile network operators and offices of rural and urban local Government institutions.

The lack of extensive bank networks has resulted in many Zimbabweans, particularly those in the rural and marginalised areas failing to access valuable financial products. With 67 percent of Zimbabweans living in the rural areas, there is a huge scope for financial institutions to increase their presence in the traditionally marginalised market.

Minister Nyoni said the Sav­ings and Credit Co­-op­er­a­tive So­ci­ety (Saccos) that were initiated by the Government to ease fi­nan­cial chal­lenges faced by women who want to start busi­nesses would be incorporated into ZWMB. Early this year Government availed $8 million for Saccos with each district across the country expected to get $200 000.

"The Saccos are now going to be incorporated into the Women's bank as the reason behind coming up with them was solely to ensure that people embrace how to use their savings to start their own businesses as well as to offer a platform for the money to cir­cu­late in a formal channel, in a way it is part of fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion," she said.

The Government also recently opened a bank for youths to assist them in their businesses.
- zimpapers
Tags: Bank,


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