News Column

Make Women's Bank a Reality

May 22, 2014

THE mooted commercial bank for women in the country is a step in the right direction which will help contribute towards raising financial empowerment among the women in Zambia.

This innovative move will, surely, help augment the banked segment of the citizens which is currently undersized and is made up of even fewer women than men.

Further, it will definitely help to meet the key objective of providing financing for women entrepreneurs and small businesses.

More often than not, when people talk about women financing, they limit that to micro-financing which is a misnomer and an anomaly, considering that women are an integral part of any country's economic sector.

In welcoming this idea, therefore, we would want to urge the initiators to be more ambitious and to avoid perpetually consigning women to the micro-economic sector.

This section of the national population should be enabled to grow, by coming up with bigger businesses and favourably competing with male business moguls.

Granted that it is well-resourced, the planned bank for women would also help address some of the long-established challenges like collateral and property ownership among the women folk.

Usually women could have good business ideas and yet lack the much-talked about collateral security that is required by the banks for anyone to access funds.

This inhibits them from reaching their full business potential, thereby dwarfing their contribution to national development.

Therefore, establishing a bank to cater exclusively for women could only mean that the people who are going to be entrusted with that responsibility will grow capacity to come up with more creative and feasible ways of addressing the collateral question.

They will, indeed, introduce ways of securing the loaned funds, for instance, without necessarily asking for collateral since it is a foregone conclusion that a large percentage of the targeted group of people does not have it.

Several pundits, including some government officials, have for some time now been calling for ways of actualising a financial institution that would address the critical issue of financial inclusion for women.

The bank for women could be another Golden Jubilee present to the Zambians especially the women.

We, strongly, agree with Gender and Child Development Permanent Secretary Daisy Ng'ambi who said yesterday that the best gift for women at the moment was to ensure economic empowerment, financial inclusion and more land to them for their economic activities.

It is elating that the plans by the ministry have reached an advanced stage and that once the idea gets Cabinet approval, the necessary public announcements would be made on the issue.

Optimistically, women have been said to be relatively better payers of loans and other financial obligations as compared to men.

This, thus, is the solid foundation on which this financial institution would be founded given the high defaulting rate in the country.

On a cautious note, there is need for the authorities to thoroughly research on the major reasons which have led to the collapse of such other specialised banks - like Lima Bank - in the past.

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Source: AllAfrica

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