Rwanda’s gender gap: banks must stop failing female entrepreneurs

Women in Rwanda internally displaced persons camp

In Rwanda, only 35% of women have a bank account. This is holding some women back from developing their own businesses.

Women make up the majority of those financially excluded in Rwanda partly because banks don’t see them as an attractive market. Photograph: Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP/Getty Images

Rwanda wants to have 90% of its population living within 5km of a bank by 2020. This is a bold goal by the Rwandan government, especially as only seven years ago only 21% of the country’s population had access to financial services at all. Savings were held informally and insecurely, and physical access to bank branches was an impossibility for most of the rural poor.

Today things look quite different. The percentage of the population with access to formal financial services has doubled to 42%, and Rwanda now boasts one of thehighest levels of financial inclusion in east Africa.

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