With inclusive growth deeply embedded in the Biniyog Briddhi (B-Briddhi) programme, the programme has organized a series of awareness-creation events that shed light on the topic of gender inclusion. Following a prior webinar held at the end of 2021 which focused on gender inclusion via impact investing, the B-Briddhi programme continued to foster awareness by hosting another webinar discussing how the impact measurement and management (IMM) tools can help yield insights around gender inclusion. Coinciding with the launch of the Gender Chapter of the B-Briddhi Impact Measurement and Management Toolkit, B-Briddhi hosted a webinar on Monday, September 19th, and featured the following esteemed panelists:
3. Ivy Huq Russell, Founder and CEO, Maya
In Bangladesh, female entrepreneurship is generally low. According to the Asian Development Bank, only 13% of SMEs are owned by women and 5% are managed by women. While female entrepreneurs have made significant strides recently, they continue to face barriers, ranging from difficulties in obtaining loans and startup capital to the lack of formal support and discriminatory social norms around gender roles. These challenges extend to female customers too, given that female entrepreneurs are more likely to develop products and services uniquely tailored to fit the needs of women.
As the country becomes more digitized, many of these vital products and services tailored to female customers are being delivered using mobile phones. However, the 2022 GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report showed that Bangladesh had one of the widest gender gaps in mobile ownership globally, with 84% of men owning a mobile phone compared to 65% of adult women. Encouragingly, however, Bangladeshi women exhibited significant increases in weekly use of value-added mobile services between 2020 and 2021, indicating a notable shift in how mobile phones are providing greater value to female customers.
In parallel, the topic of gender inclusion has gained prominence among impact investing ecosystem players recently. However, support towards female-led enterprises, employees, or investors tends to be the focal point of the discourse, rather than support towards women as customers and how to deliver products or services that best meet their needs. Specifically, the focus of this webinar was on “Women-Focused Products and Services.”
With female customers in mind, both impact enterprises and impact investors can benefit from collecting gender-disaggregated data to better understand their impact on gender inclusion. To support ecosystem players to dive deeper into this topic, B-Briddhi recently published the Gender Chapter of the Impact Measurement and Management Toolkit. During this webinar, each panelist built upon aspects of the Toolkit by speaking to the importance of IMM for better understanding female customers.
When introducing the newly launched Impact-Linked Fund for Gender Inclusive Fintech (ILF for GIF), Natasha Dinham from Roots of Impact highlighted the importance of IMM from a fund manager’s perspective. Unlike traditional financing vehicles, the ILF for GIF backs emerging market fintech by incentivizing them to achieve targeted outcomes that improve female financial inclusion and financial health.
Lean data, the IMM approach pioneered by 60 Decibels, has proven to be a valuable approach to collecting data from marginalized groups to better understand their needs. Nilah Mitchell, Gender Lead and Head of Kenya Office at 60 Decibels, complemented Natasha by speaking about how their focus. Nilah also shared how women often do not have the agency to be able to speak to 60 Decibels due to entrenched gender norms in certain countries, for example.
The importance of IMM was further emphasized by Ivy Huq Russell, Founder and CEO of Maya, who provided a perspective on how IMM can help tailor products and services to female customers. While the Maya platform is designed to serve the needs of their customers regarding sexual and reproductive health, the big digital divide in Bangladesh prevents some women from directly accessing their services.
For entrepreneurs, the importance of designing products and services tailored to women is an under-tapped market opportunity. However, effectively doing so necessitates taking an evidence-based approach centered around using gender-disaggregated data to better understand their specific needs. Building a strong IMM system to measure outcomes related to gender inclusion can help entrepreneurs unlock potential sources of innovative startup capital. The IMM system can also help in making smarter business decisions to serve this important customer segment. Adopting a lean data approach to IMM is one cost-effective way that can deliver value to both impact enterprises and investors who seek insights emanating from this data. We heard from both Natasha Dinham and Ivy Huq Russell in this regard, which allowed us to see how useful it is to articulate gender inclusion data to propel more smart solutions with female users at the forefront.
“If we think about women as the next big emerging market with a lot of business value, what I would like to challenge all of us to go a little bit further on is…is it enough just to get the product or service into the hands of women, or can we do even better to understand if women are getting the same value out of this product or service as the other gender would get through their experience?” – Maxime Cheng, Lead, Impact Intelligence & Education, Roots of Impact.
To read a more in-depth account of the event, navigate to the following knowledge piece on “Launch of the IMM Gender Chapter” at the B-Briddhi website.