Financial services for women: The maize and bean value chains in Rwanda
This report (PDF) by NpM, Platform for Inclusive Finance, analyses the position of women in the maize and bean value chains in Rwanda, as well as the current and potential role of financial service providers (FSPs) in strengthening the positioning of women in these chains. Though government policies support inclusion of women, women still experience challenges and constraints. Overall, the study showed opportunities for women in both value chains and women’s empowerment in both chains was noted at household level. However, women may not have the incentive to grow a business when they do not have control over additional income earned. On some occasions, women’s increased earning caused conflict and stress at household level. While women play an important role in bean production, it appears that their role and influence in the maize value chain, especially through cooperatives, is growing faster. This could be because beans are mostly procuded outside cooperative and for home consumption. Overall, financial inclusion in Rwanda is high, even in rural areas. However, fomal lending for agricultural value chains still lags behind. For female producers, financial services are primarily obtained through informal finance. The maize value chain offers women better access to a variety of financial services than the bean chain. A number of recommendations for stakeholders in the value chain to support women participation include the need for a better collection of sex-disaggregated data, an agreement by stakeholders on equal participation, development of approaches for gender participation and strategies to support women. For FSP specifically, the services should be tailored to the needs of women and products that take into account their disadvantages. Moreover, financial products should support the function of women in the value chain. Financing activities should be managed and handled by financial intermediaries or saving groups within cooperatives. New initiatives for reaching out to women with digital financial services should be carefully followed for learning and improvement. Promotion of such systems could be taken up by FSPs, including those that use savings groups and savings and credit cooperatives as agencies in rural areas.