At long last, Zimbabwe’s first women’s bank, Zimbabwe Women Micro-finance Bank (ZWMB) is going to open this month following a series of missed deadlines to open it. This comes after ZWMB was granted its license last week.
Women-only banks trace their genesis to Saudi Arabia in the 90s as a way of segregating man and woman. But world over, the idea of having a women’s bank was conceived out of the concern that women’s banking needs were not being adequately met.
ZWMB will be initially supported by POSB through using some of its branches and the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development. Sithembiso Nyoni, Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development said;
The significant hindrance to women’s potential to achieve their greatness has been financial exclusion, which the new dispensation has given priority to redress through the establishment of the Zimbabwe Women Micro-finance Bank….I wish to inform the nation that my Ministry, together with the bank and key stakeholders, has begun preparing for the launch of the bank to be done this month
By bringing in ZWMB in the financial system, the move will see Zimbabwe joining a growing number of countries that are opening such a type of a bank. The bank will operate parallel to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s goal to increase financial inclusion
Why a women’s bank?
Studies show that women influence up to 80% of household buying decisions worldwide but 73% of them report being unsatisfied with their banking services. Zimbabwean women are said to be unsatisfied with the current bank services because banks are developing products that don’t resonate with female consumers. For example, women generally are reported to be more responsible borrowers with a more conservative approach than men.
Therefore, banks are just creating bank products that are just one-size-fits-all with men that have an aggressive approach (or as some put it, reckless approach) in borrowing. In this regard, Zimbabwean women want a bank that serves their borrowing characteristics for instance
I think in previous years (and perhaps currently), banks in Zimbabwe simply lacked data breakdowns by gender that’s why women were underserved. Lion Finance is one financial institution currently (that I know of) in Zimbabwe that seem to be paying attention to women’s banking needs. In order to succeed in tapping the market for women’s banking services, ZWMB will perhaps start collecting the data and start to offer products befitting to women’s requirements.
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