Research & Analysis

Female Smallholders in the Financial Inclusion Agenda

Women make up half of the 1.5 billion individuals living in smallholder households, and they are an important customer segment for the financial inclusion agenda. Evidence shows that ensuring the financial inclusion of smallholder families enables pro-poor agricultural development, which in turns reduces poverty and increases food security. To achieve this development outcome, we need to ensure female smallholders are part of the financial inclusion process.

This Brief explores the gender gap in financial inclusion among smallholder families in Tanzania and Mozambique through unique survey data that allow for a nationally representative look at smallholders. This client segment represents a subset of the better-researched agricultural or rural households observed in other surveys.

Our analysis shows that not only are female smallholders more financially excluded than men, they also have lower levels of incomes, education, and economic diversification. We also find that female smallholders make fewer investments in agriculture despite their higher dependence on this activity as a source of income. Furthermore, these disparities between men and women increase sharply from the poorer to the wealthier smallholder households.

Through a gender-based analysis, we highlight aspects that financial services providers can look at to tailor financial services to female smallholder needs, as revealed by the evidence. We also discuss some key implications for policy makers that are seeking to further coordinate interventions that promote financial inclusion among female smallholders around the world.

Click here to access a slide deck on this research