Financial Inclusion in Nigeria and The Streetwise Journey So Far

3 Mins read

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – financial inclusion. You’re probably not going to believe the next few lines, but I would write them anyway. I hope you take this article with as much urgency as I have written it.

Did you know that a whopping 38 million Nigerian adults are financially excluded? This is according to the EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2020 survey.

38 million is a big number for anything at all, but let me tell you why this is such a big deal. 

No matter how indifferent you are about the world’s economic affairs, you’ve probably heard of one or all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Whether on the news or in a Social Studies textbook, mention of the SDGs has some level of importance and urgency attached to it – and rightfully so. 

There have been countless research grants, new NGOs set up, and many forms of funding made available to individuals and groups to reach those goals. So, it’s safe to say that the fate of the world’s welfare rests on the achievement of these 17 goals.

Now, according to the World Bank, financial inclusion has been identified as an enabler for 7 of the 17 SDGs. Yes, you heard that right. That means that by actively creating products, services and opportunities that foster financial inclusion, you’d be killing 7 birds with one stone.

Where we stand as a country on financial inclusion

World Bank identified a few things which have made some countries boost their financial inclusion rate over the years. Two of these things are key: 

  1. Paying attention to consumer protection, and financial capability to promote responsible, sustainable financial services
  2. Taking a strategic approach by developing a national financial inclusion strategy (NFIS)

Nigeria had an NFIS, but did we meet it?

In 2020, the NFIS set targets of 80% for overall financial inclusion – counting Nigerians that use either formal financial services or informal financial services (that are not nationally regulated), like savings groups. EFInA data shows that only 64% of Nigerian adults were financially included by the end of 2020. That brings us to 36% of Nigerian adults left excluded.

Where does Streetwise come in? 

The EFInA survey showed that the majority of financially excluded people are women, rural and northern Nigerians. Young adults between the ages of 18-25 are also strong follow-ups.

This is the reason why, more than ever, Streetwise is very important work. It’s not just any random video series created for fun or casual entertainment. Streetwise by Cowrywise is a YouTube docu-series where we have conversations with financially excluded everyday people who make their living on the streets.

Six episodes in. Here’s what we’ve found…

So far, we’ve had 6 people in the informal sector share their money experiences with us on this series. From the mama put who is saving for a house to the vulcanizer who is currently building one. How do they interact with money? How do they save and invest? What products are created to help them?

How about the security officer who took up this job to raise money for his fashion business, but can hardly get by with the salary, let alone save? Ohh and did I forget to mention he also got scammed? And the cobbler who has a night job as a security officer, just to earn enough to feed a family of 7?

So, what are the products they need? How can these be made available to them? How do we in the finance and fintech ecosystem reach these people?

Wondering what you can do about financial inclusion?

It may sound very basic, but what you need to do is pay attention.

Conduct surveys where you need to. Keep your eyes on the streets and on the ground. 

On the Streetwise series, you have direct access to the opinions nobody has bothered to pause and hear. You gain insight as industry professionals to create financially inclusive products for these underrepresented Nigerians.

“Download the app” is very easy to say, until you realize that most of the country’s population lives below the poverty line, and can hardly eat every day, let alone afford access to the internet. I mean, that is assuming they are not part of well over half of the country’s population which does not have a smartphone.

So while we create products and services to serve the already included people, let us take the time to pay attention to the under-represented, and create for them too – expand the circle and increase the numbers to get us closer and closer to the 80% target.

If you’re moved to do something about the financially excluded, you should do 2 things before you log off today.

  1. Catch up on the Streetwise episodes to understand the gap.
  2. Subscribe to our Youtube channel and turn on notifications so you get the episodes straight on your phone each time they drop.

The fate of the world’s welfare may just be dependent on the action you decide to take today. I believe in you, and the world is counting on you to answer this cry for help.

Related articles

Financial Inclusion in Nigeria and The Streetwise Journey So Far


The Dancer with the Best Money Attitude - Streetwise Episode 5


The Cobbler with Two Jobs - Streetwise Episode 4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *