Nigeria’s HERVEST is bringing financial inclusion closer to more African women.
Hervest was borne out of Solape Akinpelu’s desire to fill the financial knowledge gap of every African woman. Long work years in financial services companies made her realise that there was an “alarmingly low adoption” by women for financial services in Nigeria and Africa at large.
In her words:
I could see women living the reality around me. These women could not make sound financial decisions. Some of these women that do not even know that they could do better with their money.
She found that the problem is particularly acute for women living in rural areas, especially farm workers.
HerVest, was founded in August 2020 by Solape Akinpelu and Yomi Ogunleye as “an inclusive fintech company” to serve underserved and excluded women in Africa through a gender lens.
With a focus on women in agriculture, the startup plans to bridge the $42 billion gender finance gap for urban and last-mile women in the country.
The way Her vest operate is that it invests in in female farmers, gives them financial literacy opportunities amongst other things: access to savings, fund transfers, impact investment, financial insights and tools to underserved women while offering blended finance to smallholder female farmers in underserved African communities.
Speaking further on the hervest agenda:
We want to address the gender gap in Africa by giving access to savings, impact investment and credit to women, regardless of who they are and where they live.
Today, just over one year after Akinpelu started the company, over 4,000 women are on the HerVest platform.
A few months ago, HerVest raised a friends and family funding round of $100,000. The company plans to use the capital to add to its nine-person team, strengthen its digital infrastructure and accelerate marketing efforts. It started operations as a distributed company and still mostly operates as one.
Akinpelu’s pool of experience in the financial industry gave her insight into the need to provide more access to financial services for women.
In her words:
This makes financial inclusion ever more critical as a means for women to recover from the global crisis and build resilience in the long term.
While Hervest boasts of over 57 million working women, there are still plans to roll out their efforts into other West and East African countries in 2022.
“The problem we’re solving is an African finance gender gap, not just Nigerian,” Akinpelu said.
To get the word out, HerVest has relied on referrals and partnerships with cooperatives and social media. The company has a live app on iOS and Android and recently launched a desktop application.
SPELLING OUT THE BENEFITS
- Cooperative members get to earn 25% annualized returns.
- Access to capital.
- Access to funding.
- Access to training.
- Access to markets.
Through investments, HerVest plans to provide growth opportunities toward specific crops, grain banking, livestock and the provision of digitized e-extension services to female small-scale farmers in rural areas.
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