Deepening financial inclusion for women and youth in sub-Saharan Africa

While including a wider range of clients in the provision of financial services in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa has seen significant progress, marginalized women and youth are still left out — even where mobile money penetration (the use of mobile phones to move money) is relatively high. This project seeks to strengthen the capacity of financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa to design products and services that respond to the constraints and needs of these underserved groups. It will harness recent financial inclusion surveys and the emergence of “big data” to improve the design of financial service offerings. The ultimate goal is to help spur innovations that can address the financial barriers that limit the productive potential of marginalized groups.

The work will be carried out in Tanzania and Sierra Leone on a pilot basis. The project will identify and partner with three financial sector providers in each country that are committed to deepening financial inclusion. The project aims to demonstrate the business case for investing in data use and analytical capacity building to respond to the financial needs of those currently excluded. This will involve catalyzing the launch of successful financial products and services and building capacity within the participating financial institutions and among the local research community. The project will provide proof of concept for a potential scaling to 10 other countries in three years.

The project is a collaborative effort between IDRC and Financial Sector Deepening Africa, a Nairobi-based program to reduce poverty by building financial markets that are efficient, robust, and inclusive.

Project ID


Project status



30 months

IDRC Officer

Martha Melesse

Total funding

CA$ 1,026,200


South of Sahara


Employment and Growth

Project Leader

Paul Musoke


Financial Sector Deepening Africa

Institution Country


Institution Website