New app offers economic opportunity to Nigerien women
Women in Niger cannot open a regular bank account. Thus, taking out a small business loan, or buying a house becomes very difficult.
But with CAREs traditional village savings-and-loan groups, women can jointly save up and give loans to each other. It is a method that thousands of women in Africa and Asia have already used with great success.
Digital savings-and-loan group
In Niger, we have now further developed the popular savings-and-loan groups by making them digital.
While the savings-and-loan groups traditionally saved cash in a physical metal box, eArziki allows them to transfer money digitally via a mobile app developed for the purpose.
Reduces the risk of theft
Using cashless transfers reduces the risk of theft and avoids the high fees of private-sector intermediaries. The women receive mobile phones and training in using the app so they can build financial security for themselves and their family.
Digital history builds better credit
In addition to their ease and security, a digital solution helps women prove their creditworthiness. When they borrow and pay back money through eArziki, the app records the transactions, building a digital credit history that they can use to show that they are reliable borrowers, thus opening more financial doors for themselves.
Blockchain version on its way
The trial launch of the app has begun in November 2022, and CARE expects the app to go live in February-March 2023. CARE intends to further develop a blockchain version of the app. With the blockchain technology comes enhanced security, greater transparency, instant traceability, increased efficiency and speed, automation and much more. A community-enabled digital currency will allow the village savings-and-loan groups to use their digital currency for day-to-day business transactions.
Towards a more equal society
The women who are part of eArziki thus have the opportunity to borrow money to start a business, pay for the children's schooling, buy new farming supplies and support themselves if catastrophe strikes. This means that women gain self-confidence and their own voice in society. In other words, the savings-loan groups – traditional as well as digital - are a step on the road to a more equal society and an effective vehicle for economic justice and long-term resilience.