Financial Services for Women: Women’s Participation in Savings and Credit Cooperatives in Ethiopia

NpM commissioned a study on women’s participation in financial cooperatives as part of a broader study on promotion of women entrepreneurship in agriculture through access to finance. Our rural finance working group observed that women often do not access financial services in agriculture and, in particular, that larger loans are needed to continue their participation in the agricultural value chain.

This paper presents the results of the case study “Women’s participation in savings and credit cooperatives in Ethiopia”. It describes the experiences of female members and leaders of two Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) in Ethiopia, Lelewut Eninesa and Wub Bahil. The SACCOs were selected out of the SACCOs that are supported by the ICCO-Terrafina Microfinance capacity building program funded by the Church of Sweden.

The study started with a desk review of recent studies on women’s participation in SACCOs, followed by a field study in the end of 2017. For the analysis, we used the ‘reach, benefit and empower’ framework. This framework points out that simply reaching women (e.g. by including them as clients, as member of a cooperative or in trainings) does not ensure that they will benefit or that they will be empowered. In general, projects should aim to go beyond merely reaching women and strive to empower them to strengthen their ability to make strategic life choices and to put those choices into action.

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