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Female Financial Empowerment: Experian backs financial-literacy and microfinance initiatives targeting 2 million disadvantaged women in Asia

Posted on Mar 7, 2018
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SINGAPORE – Media OutReach – March 7th , 2018 – On International Women’s Day this year, Experian is reaffirming its commitment to female financial literacy and inclusion through a series of innovative social initiatives across Asia.

A growing body of research suggests that more female workforce participation in a country corresponds with higher GDP, as does greater gender equality overall. And a crucial element of this is boosting financial education and inclusion for women, widely seen as one of the most effective means of reducing poverty in emerging economies.

With that in mind, Experian is sponsoring and collaborating with non-governmental organisations such as Aidha and Pact, along with social enterprise iCare Benefits, to spearhead a range of innovative social programmes imparting financial and entrepreneurial skills to disadvantaged groups of women in Vietnam, India and Singapore.

“In today’s complex and fast-changing world, there is a widening gap between those who are able to participate in the digital financial economy and those who are not, and being left behind,” says Ben Elliott, Chief Executive Officer, Experian Asia Pacific. “Women are often disproportionately disadvantaged in this area – that is why Experian is committed to helping bring financial access to women in Asia Pacific. With our unique experience in unlocking the power of data, we have built clearer or wholly new credit profiles for women, giving many of them access to the formal financial system – and control of their economic future – for the first time.”

Protection from loan sharks: Building on the achievements and lessons of Mekong Vitality 2, Experian and Pact designed and launched the financial education project Prosper, in cooperation with social enterprise iCare Benefits .

In the pilot phase this year, 1,500 female factory workers are being taught basic principles of financial literacy, which is reducing their vulnerability to loan sharks as well as boosting their access to formal financial services and reducing loan defaults. The women meet in workshops using adult learning and participatory methodologies to booth their confidence and practice what they learn. After the trainings, there is a marked improvement in their awareness of good saving, spending and borrowing habits, with many adopting improved practices such as recording their expenses for the first time.

The goal: Reaching 2 million women: The aim is to develop this curriculum so it can be extended to 2 million female factory workers in Asia by the end of 2019.

Elliott says, “The success of these programmes highlights the importance of achieving gender equality not just in the boardroom and in politics, but in the population at large. Experian strongly believes achieving gender equality is possible, and would encourage organisations and individuals to volunteer their time and money with groups such as Aidha, iCare Benefits and Pact, who make a real difference.”

iCare Benefits  is an employee-benefits solution for low and medium-income workers in developing countries, providing factory workers access to basic products and services that can drastically improve the quality of life for both them and their families, and facilitate professional growth and productivity. iCare Benefits operates in Southeast Asia, with a focus on Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia.

Read the full article on Asia One.