Africa, Nigeria is at a turning point, with diverse transformation to the business ecosystem but sadly, this has always been within a bubble. With, most of financial services just meeting the need of a particular part of the society, more often than none, leaving low income households and other vulnerable groups with almost no opportunity to improve their standard of living and no platform to contribute to the development of the nation’s economy. Thus, the push for inclusivity.
Inclusivity is a multifaceted concept with financial inclusion as a major part of it. Economic growth for any economy is dependent on the financial strength of such economy. And for economic growth to be sustainable, it has to include all levels of the society, as tons of activities are carried out daily across these levels .
Financial inclusion refers to all initiative that makes formal financial services available, accessible and affordable to all segments of the population. From those that are banked and properly served to the unbanked (low income earners; woman selling Agege bread to the conductor at the motor park), financial inclusion involves making available useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs and are delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.
In Nigeria, with an adult population of 107 million, 41.8 of this are totally unbanked with no savings whatsoever to their name (EFINA 2017). While a good number of those that are financially served does so through the informal system, i.e, they save with friends and family and also through the Ajo system majorly. Thus, an estimate of 46.1 million adult population lack access to basic financial services and the means to participate in the global economy.
The reality is, once every segment of the society can be financially inclusive, 2 major things happen;
- They get to manage their own finances
- They tend to spend less time worrying and spending more time creating more opportunities for themselves and can strive for other levels of human needs.
Summarily, the benefits of financial inclusion cannot but be over-emphasized and below are the highlights:
- Financial inclusion for all level of the society would imply, access to basic financial services from savings to making payments, getting loans, mortgage, etc.
- No one person has moved from one level of the society to another by relying on his or her personal savings, financial inclusion would enable the unbanked and under-served have access to loans using transaction history for credit score analysis, which would in turn allow them create better investment for themselves.
- The benefits of financial inclusion would enable the financially excluded and the under-served build resilience against financial shock, like payment for education, sickness, etc.
- It would also give them the needed platform to create better opportunities for themselves as less time would be spent on financial worries.