Olivia Nakiwala Sanyu, a seamstress working in the outskirts of Kampala Kabalagala in Uganda, was struggling to get her sewing business off the ground. Unable to leave her shop during the day, she found it almost impossible to get the basic financial services she needed such as opening an account or even requesting a loan. Like many women in her village, she did not have access to affordable, convenient financial services nor the financial literacy skills needed to feel economically empowered​.

This all changed with the help of FINCA Uganda Limited. As part of its Scale2Save project, FINCA Uganda helps low-income people, like Olivia, become more financially literate by teaching them how to save and inculcate in them a savings mindset.  “Joining FINCA was a breakthrough in my businesses”, says Olivia. ​

Empowering women through digital means

FINCA Uganda aims to mobilize sustainable savings by leveraging breakthrough technologies such as mobile-based products delivered via a smartphone, agent or handset, as well as digital field automation (DFA). Through FINCA’s DFA system, field officers were able to travel to Olivia’s village and provide her with the financial skills and services she needed as an entrepreneur. She was able to open an account and start making transactions using mobile mon​​ey without ever having to leave her shop. Her sewing business has since kicked off, allowing her to pay for utilities such as water, electricity and air conditioning all whilst remaining at work. Olivia’s life has changed for the better –​ she feels more empowered than ever. “FINCA treated me as a queen”, says Olivia.

FINCA Uganda Managing Director James Onyutta said: “We are excited to bring services closer to our clients, through our digital channels. The convenience saves our customers time and money- and gives them an opportunity to dedicate time to both their families and businesses.”​​

Bringing financial services closer to women

Proximity to banking services remains a challenge, particularly for women. Some FINCA customers travel long distances to open an account or make a simple transaction at a branch. By bringing services to their doorstep or in the palms of their hand, digital channels – both mobile and shared agents – are making banking more efficient and savings more affordable. Most women are hindered from accessing financial services due to multiple barriers. Regulated financial institutions often require clients to have business licenses to be eligible for loans, yet many women-led businesses remain informal. Women also fear going to branches due to the fact that a majority of them are illiterate and are overwhelmed by the sheer amounts of paperwork to be filled out which are often not in their local language.