I have over 10 years of experience in microfinance and 3 years in financial literacy through Buzz Women Gambia. I'd like to share my experience and learnings.
A clear sense of direction
Prior to working with Buzz, I had the preconception that women are very poor and generally helpless. However, with my experience through continuous interaction with them for the past three years. I have come to learn, that they just lack education and the proper path to follow.
Unnecessary loans from micro-financial institutions
I have also learnt that many women often take unnecessary loans without a purpose from microfinance institutions and they end up misusing the funds, coupled with their inability to calculate interest rates, loan repayment becomes a big challenge for them. Owing to the above most of them default and worsen their situation.
Lack of confidence to lead or invest in profitable businesses:
Many women think they can't lead. This is far from the truth because an impressive number of them are now assuming important leadership roles in their various communities after Buzz training. Consequently, amongst them, we have a commendable number that is into prolific businesses in different sectors of the economy.
About 90% of businesswomen do not know how to keep records and calculate income statements e.g. profit and loss, balance sheets and so on. This makes it very difficult for them to determine the profitability of their businesses or otherwise.
You will agree with me that women are very hard-working, but during social functions like marriage and naming ceremonies, they happily spend their entire savings and go back to square one. In essence, women require a certain level of financial discipline to change their lives for the better.
In conclusion, I believe in changing the narratives for strong, resilient and self-dependent communities. When communities are empowered, they do miracles, and when they understand exactly what the problem is they educate each other, therefore financial literacy program is of great essence and should be emphasised. Women realise an increase in savings and stable income to grow their businesses on their terms.