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Mastercard Champions for Gender Inclusion with DigitAll

by Kwabe Ben

Mastercard and African Women in Fintech have taken on the greater initiative of championing equity
in gender at all levels. The initiative involves creating employment opportunities for women as well as
involving them in the formulation of the policies of day-to-day affairs.

Imelda Ngunzu, the Director of Enterprise Partnerships – Strategic Growth at Mastercard notes that, there
the main objective is that a journey toward equity and inclusion should never end.

“There is a need to play a role in designing a better world that has limitless possibilities for everyone,”
she added.

The initiative will be achieved through Mastercard’s department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. One
of the focus areas of the department is gender balance, which not only addresses a commitment to
diversity and inclusion, but also has a single-minded focus on women because women everywhere still
face inequality and exclusion.

“Our ambition is to be the employer, brand, and partner of choice, for women. Our world is full of
brilliant possibilities, but they’re not always open to everyone. Too much of our world was designed
without women in mind – and without women involved. Even today, inequality and exclusion still hold
women back,” emphasized Imelda.

According to the African Tech Start-ups Funding report 2022, investment into the African tech start-up
ecosystem passed the US$3 billion mark for the first time in 2022, with more start-ups raising money,
from more investors.

The African Women in Fintech chairperson Topy further revealed that up to 33 percent of women in the
society has laxity when it comes to involving themselves in Fintechs and financial systems.

This she points out, is a challenge as women are not well informed. However, based on the sign-ups from
the fintech applications, up to 63 percent of the constant users are women despite the high registration
numbers being men.

The main challenges that keep several women outside cities from using the Fintech applications are the
access, and expenses of the data bundles that are essential for using the applications.

The adoption of both cheaper applications and lower data bundle usage can assist increase penetration and
usage passed urban areas.

A point was emphasized by the women in Fintech who got on to the panel discussion, highlighting that
96% of Kenyans have phones by age 15 among which 60% have smartphones. Even though Africa has
astoundingly performed well in the terms of gender parity when it comes to detailing startups and SMEs,
there’s 25% of women are likely to avoid the financial systems.

According to the discussions by the women in Fintechs and the banking system, there is a need to make
simple and easy to access the information essential for women to acquire support from the financial
systems. Through the reduction of this uncertainty, there will be an ability to boost the number of women
in Fintechs and the banking systems.

“We also know that people thrive when they feel they belong, their ideas are valued, and they are treated
fairly, and we recognize our responsibility to do well by doing good – and rise to achieve this in all that
we do,” Imelda added.

Elaborating that African women are a vital, yet underserved source of growth, prosperity, and innovation.
Their contributions drive commerce, communities, and society as a whole. For example, in Kenya,
women constitute about 52% of the country’s population, and about 30% of the registered businesses (so
far) are female-owned yet their financial inclusion remains lean.

Chairperson Topy Muga, of African Women in Fintech and Payments (AWFP) says, partnering with
various players like Mastercard are essential in advancing the journey of gender inclusivity. Since
Mastercard has set a goal of providing 25 million women entrepreneurs, with solutions that can help
they grow their businesses through a range of initiatives including funding, mentoring, and the
development of inclusive technologies; the vision is to create limitless possibilities for everyone and work
every day to move in the right direction, especially when ensuring that we design a better world for

“We commit to reaching 5 million girls around the world by 2025 through our award-winning
Girls4Tech™ program. Our signature STEM education curriculum addresses the sharp drop-off in girls’
engagement in STEM subjects during the pre-high school and college years,” said Imelda Ngunzu.
Further highlighting some of the programs like Jaza Duka, a digital inclusive program launched in
partnership with Unilever and KCB Bank, enabling MSMEs to access affordable credit enabling them to
conduct their businesses with ease. The biggest buy-in for Jaza Duka comes from younger women
entrepreneurs which are 70% of the total buy-in.

That said, Mastercard working very closely with the fintech, we see a great opportunity for women to tap into
the fintech space. Let’s delve deeper into this:

Mastercard as a technology player is playing a central role as a technology in helping fintech to scale and
grow through partnerships with financial institutions. “We have recently partnered with DTB Bank to
launch a fintech-focused partnership, the first of its kind in East Africa, and is set to be a game changer in
the digital space. For women in Fintech, this is a valuable space to explore, and we are here to walk the
journey with you.” The organization said.

Fintech held the leading space in Kenya in terms of the number of funded ventures in 2022.
Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt remain Africa’s “big four” from a funding perspective. Kenya
remains one of the early start-up markets in Africa.

Fintechs play an important part in contributing to the adoption of digital technologies. In rural
communities, this has brought people and businesses into the formal economy, creating more
opportunities, and improving livelihoods.

We recognize the important role of fintech in financial inclusion (both individuals and merchants), in
driving digital transformation and growing digital banking solutions.

African Women in Fintech and Payments, and Mastercard are welcoming various players on board in
championing gender inclusion. Topy states that bringing various players on board is the best milestone as
it integrates all in a search for the same goal, which is, empowering the gender balance most needed.

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