Daily Archives: October 5, 2016

New Report Highlights How Providers Can Help Close the Financial Gender Gap

Using behavioral data from India, Kenya, and Mexico, the study reveals some of the causes of the persistent gender gap in emerging economies

SOMERVILLE, Massachusetts, Oct. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — BFA (Bankable Frontiers Associates) today released “A Buck Short: What Financial Diaries Tell Us About Building Financial Services That Matter to Low-Income Women”. The research report, which was sponsored by Omidyar Network, explores why women in emerging economies don’t access and use formal financial services to the same extent as their male counterparts. Through the analysis of behavioral data from deep engagements with low-income, economically active women, the report identifies leveraging women’s social networks, tailoring tools to manage day-to-day transactions, and creating new digital, branchless platforms as some of the steps needed to better cater to this segment.

It is estimated that 1.1 billion women around the world are excluded from the formal financial system1—55 percent of the global number of unbanked individuals. In developing countries, women lag men by 9 percent when it comes to access to a bank account. In South Asia, the gap in account ownership is the largest of all the world’s regions, cascading 18 percentage points from 55 percent for men to 37 percent for women1.

“Although we have made great strides to expand access to financial services through new technologies and innovative business models, the gender divide stubbornly persists in most emerging markets,” said Tilman Ehrbeck, partner at Omidyar Network. “This report highlights the importance of designing products and services that take into account behavioral insights as a key piece in cracking this issue.”

Following the lauded Financial Diaries methodology, the data analyzed in “A Buck Short” include both rich stories and detailed cash flows over time, offering a more nuanced view of surveyed women’s financial behavior, highlighting key differences from men’s, and uncovering compelling product design recommendations for financial services providers.

“The reality is that traditional bank accounts just aren’t that useful for a lot of women who move in and out of the workforce, earn very little money, and are typically managing day-to-day cash flows rather than big, long-term investments with their savings,” explained Julie Zollmann, senior associate at BFA and co-author of the research. “For financial service providers, this means building even lower cost tools to solve women’s money problems.”

Among the findings and recommendations provided in “A Buck Short” are:

Behavioral Finding Product Design Recommendation
Women play defense in the household, doing a lot of backstopping, stretching budgets, and stepping in when men do not meet expected financial obligations. While men are culturally expected to play offense, being responsible for growth-oriented investments that position the family for future prosperity.      • Offer better tools to manage day-to-day transactions and flexible financing to address stretching and gap filling needs.
Women’s networks tend to be horizontal—which can be limiting when it comes to monetizing relationships. While men tend to pursue more vertical social networks, preferring to build relationships with those of higher standing, who might be able to offer them new job connections, investment opportunities, etc.      • Leverage women’s social networks as a channel to offer new opportunities. Exposure to new earning and investments are opportunities for growth.
 • Women tend to earn lower incomes than men and to move in and out of the workforce several times over the course of their lives. Build financial services that cater for smaller balances and transaction sizes. Digital channels can reduce costs enabling such services to also make business sense.
Economic geography can be more restrictive for women. In some markets, women’s economic geographies are substantially smaller and closer to home. In Mexico, for example, 82 percent of women’s total spending took place inside their communities, while men did a greater proportion of their total spending farther away, at a distance beyond a 30-minute walk from home.      • Look to digital and other branchless ways to serve women closer to their homes.

The full report can be downloaded at: www.omidyar.com/insights/what-financial-diaries-tell-us-about-building-financial-services-matter-low-income-women

About BFA
BFA (Bankable Frontier Associates) is a global consulting firm specializing in the development of financial services for low-income people around the world. Our approach is to seek out, create and implement solutions to the challenges faced by low-income people in managing the financial matters that underpin their lives.  We purposefully partner with cutting-edge financial and nonfinancial institutions that touch the lives of low income customers. In creating solutions, we integrate our deep expertise in customer insights, business strategy, new technology and growth-enabling policy & regulation. Founded in 2006, our clients include donors, investors, financial institutions, policymakers, insurers and payment service providers. BFA has offices in Boston, New York and Nairobi. For more information, please visit: www.bankablefrontier.com.

About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. Omidyar Network has committed more than $1 billion to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple initiatives, including Consumer Internet & Mobile, Education, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights. To learn more, visit www.omidyar.com, and follow on Twitter @omidyarnetwork #PositiveReturns.

1 The World Bank. The Global Findex Database 2014: Measuring Financial Inclusion Around the World. www.worldbank.org/en/programs/globalfindex.

Green Innovation, Mutual Development: China Yiwu International Forest Products Fair is Around the Corner

YIWU, China, Oct. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The 9th China Yiwu International Forest Products Fair, to be held from November 1-4, 2016 at Yiwu International Exhibition Center, has just one month to go and its exhibitor recruitment, investment attraction and other supporting activities have come to a final phase.

Thousands of quality suppliers and over 100 thousand buyers from all over the world will gather at the Fair where China’s most advanced forestry technologies and products, the most popular forestry innovations, and original ecological products will be displayed. Visitors will have a green and lively experience at the Fair.

The 9th Forest Products Fair will expand its exhibition area to 80,000m2, offering 3,600 standard booths. The exhibition will fall into eight categories, namely Furniture & Accessories, Wood & Bamboo Handicrafts, Wood & Bamboo Daily Necessities, Timberwork & Wooden Building Materials, Forest Food, Tea Products, Flowers & Gardening, Forestry Technology & Forestry Equipment.

With a focus on economic effects, the Fair will center on promotion of forestry products trade while also piloting many ethnic group and region-featured exhibitions. “Taiwan Agroforestry Products Collections”, “Rosewood Furniture Boutiques”, “Forestry Products of ‘She People’, an ethnic group in Zhejiang Province”, “Classical Bamboo Products”, “Agroforestry E-Commerce”, “Creative Forestry Products” are some of the distinctive exhibition themes that are favored by visitors. Apart from these, there will also be a “One Belt and One Road” — themed zone echoing China’s latest economic initiative and offering visitors a visual experience of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Whether you like elegant classy or aboriginal forestry products, you can find them all at the 9th Forest Products Fair.

About China Yiwu International Forest Products Fair

China Yiwu International Forest Products Fair, hosted by the State Forestry Administration and the People’s Government of Zhejiang Province, has been held annually since 2008. The Forest Fair is a green, low-carbon and environment-friendly exhibition, with a powerful trading function, abundance of business opportunities, prominent international influence and a perfect service system. Forest Fair is China’s only, and world’s second agroforestry fair accredited by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI).

China Yiwu International Forest Products Fair
Hui Wang, +86-579-85415888

Home Affairs on decision by New Zealand to introduce visa requirements for South Africa

The Department of Home Affairs has noted the decision by the government of New Zealand to introduce visa requirements for all South Africans wishing to travel to that country from 21 November 2016.

The department respects the decision taken by New Zealand, as a sovereign state, in the interest of their security obligations. On our part, we will continue to engage with the New Zealand government to arrive at a common understanding on the matter. To this end, we find it unfortunate given the vast improvements to our systems over the years. The department will consider a response and communicate once it has been concluded.

Source: Government of South Africa

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa lauds the two day working visit to Republic of Vietnam

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa lauds successful visit to the Republic Vietnam ahead of visit to Singapore

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday 04 October 2016, concluded his working visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam ahead of his scheduled working visit to the Republic of Singapore from 05-07 October. Deputy President Ramaphosa lauded the two day working visit to the Republic of Vietnam.

“This has been a very good visit in that we had really good extensive and expansive talks with the Vice President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, said Deputy President Ramaphosa addressing the local media.

Deputy President Ramaphosa further said “We covered a lot of areas that has common interest between South Africa and Vietnam. The visit is really based on a very solid foundation in that Vietnam and South Africa had a long period of good relations and cooperation and this was really to extend and deepen those relations.

At a trade level, Deputy President Ramaphosa said “We are already doing a lot of trade. The trade has grown from about half a billion dollars to one and a half billion dollars and we want to expand that. At the moment it is more in the favour of Vietnam. Vietnam is exporting a lot more goods to South Africa from the manufacturing base. We are exporting a little less from an agricultural base.

“We want to expand that to include mining products which we are very good at, to include defence products which we also have in good abundance and we reached an agreement that we are going to do everything we can to balance the trade between our two countries, continued the Deputy President.

“Now this is cooperation at its highest level because when good partners realise that there is an imbalance in their relationship they immediately take decisions to balance the relationship. So we are deeply grateful to have such a relationship with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, he further said.

Deputy President Ramaphosa said that “At a trade level we are going to do a lot of exciting things and balance the trade and even increase it exponentially. At an education level we have agreed that we are going to cooperate even further on education.

“We have a number of students here who are studying marine studies at their university and we are even going to be willing to welcome Vietnamese students to come and learn English, and the teaching of English in South Africa so we will be willing to extend scholarships to those young people, continued the Deputy President.

“We are also going to be cooperating on a biodiversity level even more particularly after the Cities conference to conserve wildlife, particularly the Rhino. We were very pleased with the discussions that we had and appreciated very much the level of concern that the Vietnamese government also has with regards to protecting and conserving the Rhino, said Deputy President Ramaphosa.

“And as you know South Africa has more Rhino than any other country in the world and the Rhino is facing a great deal of challenges because it is being pouched. The Vietnamese government has made a commitment that it is going to spread more information in Vietnam about the importance of conserving the Rhino and this for us it is absolutely important and in many ways it also helps to deepen and broaden our relationship with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, continued Deputy President Ramaphosa.

Deputy President Ramaphosa added that “other area which I found really good, was the way they have extended and are willing to extend assistance and help to us when it comes to the blue ocean economy. Vietnam is already a leading country in the building of ships. We went to their shipyard and saw the extensive work that they do and South Africa has embarked on using the oceans as a pillar of our economy and we are embarking on a massive investment drive in the blue ocean economy.

“Vietnam is going to be our good partner when it comes to aquaculture, when it comes to marine transport, when it comes to ship building, when it comes to tugboat building. We are already doing some of these things so Vietnam is going to give us a lot of support and a lot of assistance, continued Deputy President Ramaphosa.

“In the end this has been a very successful visit, mutually beneficial based on respect for one another, based on seeking every way we can to prosper each other and make sure that we have really good international relations. We cooperate internationally at a UN level and other international institutions. We cooperate extremely well, so Vietnam is a good friend of South Africa and we are very pleased with that, further said Deputy President Ramaphosa.

In answering questions about agreements signed on the visit the Deputy President said that “Well the agreements are really forming the foundations so others are going to come to sign those agreements, to extend them, for instance on the areas of defence there is a deep willingness to exchange technology, to also reach agreements, we are now getting into negotiations here, so that is also going to form a very good foundation.

“Everything has gone well and has formed a rather good foundation. Some of my colleagues from the cabinet are going to be coming. Science and Technology will be coming to further develop ideas on possible areas of agreement; Defence will be coming and a number of my fellow cabinet members are going to come. This has been forming a very good base and a foundation for all that to happen, concluded Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Source: Government of South Africa

SA sharpens its research quality

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor says the launch of a South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap is significant, as it will give researchers access to world class scientific knowledge to help them produce quality research outcomes.

The Minister said this when she addressed scientists at the launch of the roadmap document at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Tuesday night.

The overall objective of the roadmap is to provide a strategic, rational, medium to long-term framework for planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the provision of research infrastructures necessary for a competitive and sustainable national system of innovation.

The roadmap was also developed with the understanding that access to adequate and relevant research infrastructure is essential to promote the outcomes and quality of research.

In order to maximise the return from investment in research, scientists and researchers must have access to modern and appropriate infrastructure, she said.

The launch of the roadmap document took place on the sidelines of the International Conference on Research Infrastructures (ICRI) 2016.

The roadmap is an initiative of the European Commission and South Africa through the two parties’ trade agreement.

It is expected that the roadmap will provide guidance to the Department of Science and Technology on the deployment of infrastructure to enable research, development and innovation.

It is also expected to allow the country to set national priorities and to earmark funds for development and participation in pan-European research infrastructure activities.

The Minister said world class research infrastructure is the basis for building competitive knowledge-based activities.

She said research infrastructure attracts the best scientists and innovators.

One of the strategies South Africa has pursued, with strong support from global partners, has been to develop big science infrastructure projects as a means of attracting scientific talent, the Minister said.

Square Kilometre Array radio-telescope project

This includes the iconic Square Kilometre Array radio-telescope project, which brings together scientists in disciplines such as mathematics, physics, computer science and other fields working in Africa to build the largest scientific infrastructure on the continent.

The Minister said the success of South Africa’s bid to host the SKA was dependent on being able to demonstrate the country’s ability to capture, process and then disseminate data from the telescopes to the rest of the world.

Apart from the complicated mathematical and computer science skills necessary to achieve this, massive computational resources to process the images, high speed networks to disseminate the data and large data stores are essential.

For this reason, the department also invested in the key components of the national cyber-infrastructure system, namely, the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC), the South African National Research Network (SANReN) and the Data Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa (DIRISA).

All the national cyber-infrastructure system is implemented at the CSIR, she said.

She said the roadmap is the apex of a long and deep commitment by South Africa to infrastructure development.

The Minister said over the last eight years, the department has invested more than R2.7 billion in research and development infrastructure, R1.5 billion in cyber-infrastructure and R3.5 billion in the MeerKAT and SKA project.

The South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap signals South Africa’s ongoing commitment to invest in infrastructure development and support, complementing existing infrastructure and research equipment programmes, not replacing them, she said.

The Minister said as a consequence of long-term government support, South Africa has a comparatively well-established infrastructure base, including the National Facilities of the NRF, many science councils, and a significant scientific equipment base.

She said the department has signed agreements with international research infrastructures such as European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the Joint Institute for Nuclear Physics (JINR), the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), in terms of which South African researchers and students have access to such facilities.

Source: South African Government News Agency