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Datahack4FI, a competition aimed at financial inclusion, recently announced the data scientists and fintechs to take part in its program. The i2i organized competition is targeting “established Fintechs” whom they are pairing with “expert data scientists” to help them “unlock the potential of the Fintechs vast internal data.”
The selected fintechs in Uganda are True African, NFT Consult, Mambo Pay, Pegasus Technologies, Mcash, Futurelink technologies, AkelloMoney, EzeeMoney, Sula and Moqiud. While the selected data scientists are Peter Erskine, Vitalis Asiku, Edward Kashegu Omara, Kenneth Legesi, Steven Ntambi, Musisi Brian, Nelson Mulera Mugisha, Otim Samuel, Sophie Nanteza and Katto Dickson.
Yet, one notable and outstanding fact is that Sophie Nanteza is the only woman in the list of 10 data scientists. While as financial inclusion is an issue that affects both men and women, this publication by The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor argues that “Financial inclusion of women and girls can create gender equality by empowering them and giving them greater control over their financial lives.”
The Global Findex database also points out that as of 2014 “Forty-two percent of women and girls worldwide – approximately 1.1 billion– remain outside the formal financial system.” Which implies that any efforts geared towards financial inclusion must have a strong consideration of gender equality to ensure they reap most benefits of the efforts.
Given that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the MasterCard Foundation-funded project is running for 5 years, this should be a lesson. They should focus on how best to reach out to more women.
This writing is not suggesting that the problem is with the organizers of the program nor the women who could be participants. It seeks to hold all concerned parties accountable and request them to come together and find out why.