The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Vodafone Ghana Foundation has empowered rural women engaged in agribusiness in the Upper East Region to harness digital technology to promote financial inclusion and productivity.
The training dubbed, “leveraging technology to bring the informal to formal” with support from Access Bank and facilitated by the Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana, a local Non Governmental Organization, to empower the women to take advantage of the technological revolution to ensure digitization and financial inclusion.
It was to enable the vulnerable women mostly into farming and agro-processing including rice parboiling to harness the mobile technology as a transformational mechanism to run resilient and profitable businesses to increase production, bridge digital gaps and improve income levels.
The about 61 women made up of leaders of various groups were trained on how to use their mobile phones to save, transact businesses and access formal banking services to improve their livelihoods.
Ms Sylvia Senu, Economic Analyst, UNDP, explained that the two-year project which was launched about a year ago, envisaged to empower about 2,000 poor rural women four Municipalities and Districts including; the Bolgatanga and Kassena-Nankana Municipals, Bawku West and Bongo Districts.
The Economic Analyst noted that the world was evolving at a faster pace with the help of technological revolution and it was therefore imperative to assist the women to upscale their knowledge and skills on the use of the mobile technology to increase upon performance.
She said a study conducted revealed that though most of the rural women had mobile phones, they still saved their monies in boxes and physical objects associated with lots of challenges including theft.
Ms Senu stated that empowering the women to leverage technology to transact their businesses would not only help them manage their finances well and improve productivity, but would rope them into the financial inclusion, help reduce poverty and contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Reverend Amaris Nana Adjei Perbi, Head, Vodafone Ghana Foundation, noted that his outfit was committed to working to contribute to the country’s efforts in achieving the SDGs through financial inclusion and improving livelihoods especially among rural dwellers.
He said as part of the training to improve on the use of the mobile phones to transact businesses , all the beneficiary women were given SIM cards and added that it would help them manage their savings, prevent theft and improve productivity.
Mr Mac-Neil Bruce, Team Lead, Financial Inclusion and Women Banking, Access Bank, explained that one of the things that Access Bank thrived on was to create customer centric products and said the project would help reduce the physical transaction process and its associated challenges.
Mr Bruce who noted Access Bank had created accounts for each beneficiary woman and group accounts for their various cooperatives noted the spread of the novel coronavirus disease pandemic made the digital technology more relevant in the financial sector.
The beneficiary women lauded the efforts of UNDP and Vodafone Ghana Foundation for the project and explained that the training they received after the launch of the project last year, had improved their savings and livelihoods.
Mrs Gilberta Akuka, leader of the Sungit-Mas Women Group, farming and trading group at Sapeliga in the Bawku West District, noted that project had improved their financial services with the banks and their savings had improved as they do not spend before saving as they use to do.