The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) on Tuesday acknowledged the impact being made by the global organisation Mercy Corps and MasterCard, highlighting the role of the National eID (NeID) card in empowering those previously excluded from the formal financial system.
Mercy Corps and MasterCard aim to register 18 000 young girls and women in Nigeria to receive a NeID card, giving most access to their first formal identity. Currently over 2,000 young women have gone through the Mercy Corps/ MasterCard programme. Over 6,000 participants from across Mercy Corps programs have been registered for the multi-functional eID card, and nearly 100 have already received their card.
The MasterCard-funded Accelerating Savings and Strengthening Entrepreneurship Training and Skills (ASSETS) program, is implemented by Mercy Corps and seeks to improve the lives of young women by connecting them to financial literacy and entrepreneurship training and financial services. Programme participants are registered to receive a NeID, which in turn is linked to a mobile savings account.
According to the World Bank, only 47 percent of women worldwide have access to formal financial institutions, compared to 51 percent of men, and more than 1.3 billion women are excluded from the formal financial system. In Africa more than 70 percent of women are excluded from formal financial services.
Globally, nearly 2.4 billion people live without any form of official personal identification, and the majority of them are women.
“By connecting young women with resources and education to boost their financial literacy, leadership skills and economic opportunities, we can help them see that a bright future is possible,” says Iveta Ouvry, Nigeria Country Director for Mercy Corps. “Adolescent girls play a key role in transforming their communities and countries for good, which is why we’re focused on empowering this key demographic.”
MasterCard, Mercy Corps and the NIMC are committed to providing participants in the ASSETS program with access to financial tools and entrepreneurship training. To date, 2,219 girls have been reached. This NeID card enables electronic transactions, which gives them access to a wide range of financial tools and services for the unbanked and under-banked.
“We realise that to truly empower impoverished communities here in Nigeria and around the world we need to empower women through financial inclusion,” says Omokehinde Adebanjo, Vice President and Area Business Head, West Africa, MasterCard. “Lack of identity is a critical barrier for women seeking to vote, own property or open a bank account. Together, we are making a real difference in these women’s lives and encourage an entrepreneurial spirit through the training.”
The partnership has made real strides to empower young women by encouraging them to take control of their own future. The reality is that for many young girls school is not seen as a priority, but through the Mercy Corps programme they are able to access the alternative resources they need to learn, grow and build a brighter future.
For twenty year old Tawa*, the prospect of a successful future seemed unobtainable when she was forced to drop out of school at the age of 16 because of the lack of funds for a uniform, or even basic necessities. Tawa joined the ASSETS programme and learnt hairdressing skills such as washing hair, braiding and making wigs, which has enabled her to save money. She has a dream of owning her own salon and the programme has taught her how to save and spend wisely.
Akhanni* left school at the age of twelve and lacked the ability to change her circumstances, but it was her father that pushed her to enrol in ASSETS. It was here that she flourished and became a photographer after completing a nine-month photography course. She has also saved money for her very own professional camera to start her own business.
MasterCard hopes to create long lasting solutions to reduce poverty in Nigeria. “In support of the Cashless Nigeria policy, we have seen great progress, however, challenges still exist. Our partnerships have been key in overcoming these challenges. We remain committed to moving towards a world beyond cash by implementing new payment solutions and our partnership with Mercy Corps is testament to this,” Adebanjo concludes.