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Women face discrimination in accessing loans, new survey shows

Business

 

 A woman holds a mobile phone with loan application approval. [Getty Images]

A new survey has found that women perceive a slightly higher level of gender bias than men while accessing financial services in Kenya.

According to the survey conducted by mobile loans lender Tala, 65 per cent of women respondents stated that gender bias was “moderate” to “extreme” in financial services.  The majority of both men and women reported perceiving some level of gender bias in the financial services industry.

The lender surveyed over 800 Kenyans to identify the challenges and opportunities faced by women entrepreneurs in emerging markets, especially regarding accessing financial services.

It, however, found that more men reported no gender bias while 58 per cent of respondents said that financial services cater to the needs of all genders equally. “Over the years, numerous research findings have established that perception of gender bias in accessing financial services has led more women, especially in emerging markets such as Kenya to self-select themselves out of borrowing or even applying for credit.

“Should the numbers from this report be anything to go by, as players in the credit market, we must intentionally equip our female customers with knowledge and skills to enhance their strategic business ability,”said Annstella Mumbi General Manager, Tala Kenya.

She said key skills areas include financial management, leadership, and technology “which will give them confidence to utilize financial services and unleash their financial power within the larger economy.”

On access to credit, 64 per cent of women respondents reported experiencing challenges accessing financial services while 56 per cent of female respondents reported it was tough to finance their businesses.

62 per cent of respondents said gender does not impact getting a loan, men were however much more likely to report it as ‘very easy’ to finance their businesses while only 7 per cent of women reported the same. Another notable trend was that of the sample group, slightly more men use a bank account regularly than women respondents.

“56 per cent of women respondents report it was “hard” to “very hard” to finance their business.  Men were much more likely to report it “very easy” to finance their business while only 7 per cent of women reported the same.  Even so, 63 per cent of women respondents were confident to very confident in their ability to finance their business in the future,” the findings of the survey indicated.

 36 per cent of the women respondents currently have a small or personal business while 37 per cent do not currently have a small or personal business, but report wanting to start one.

61 per cent of women respondents said their long-term financial goal is to increase their income. The next two most common long-term goals were increasing inventory or offering a wider variety of products/services.

“49 per cent of women respondents report getting the money they need to start or grow their business is a main financial challenge to completing their goals this year. This is followed by balancing business needs with personal life (31 per cent) and dealing with unexpected emergencies (30 per cent). The top financial challenge men report, however, is dealing with competition,” Tala said while releasing the findings.

“We intend to use leading machine learning-powered infrastructure to harness the best of next-generation technologies to build trusted, real-world financial solutions for the global majority, and that includes women. We hope that our mobile-first financial platform makes a difference for millions of customers globally, providing instant access to capital and the financial tools they need to grow their income today and build wealth for tomorrow,” said Mumbi.

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