In recent years, studies show that when a woman controls her own finances, she invests in the health, nutrition, and education of her family—investments that drive inter-generational change with a ripple effect in her community. At the macro level, expanding financial inclusion for women has a profound impact on overall economic growth and community development. This evidence proves that, to achieve full financial inclusion today, women need financial tools that go far beyond loans.

Expanding financial inclusion means ensuring that women have access to savings as well as the training and education to use these services well. Most importantly, these products must be designed and delivered in ways that fit into women’s lives. Financial institutions will miss a great opportunity if they simply enable more women to access products without regard for how they will (or will not) be used.

For women and low-income women in particular, savings accounts can be a game-changer by allowing them to build more financial security for themselves and their families, to grow their businesses, and to cope with emergencies. However, low-income women often face barriers to accessing a safe place to save due to mobility and time constraints as well as low levels of financial literacy. They are forced to save in less reliable ways: at home in a drawer or under a mattress, by buying excess stock for their businesses or through a neighborhood savings club. We as Thrive assist women in opening group accounts that can be used as savings accounts. This enables them to save from their business incomes and ensures financial security for themselves and their families.

Women are far more likely to benefit from their savings accounts if they are trained to use them to their full advantage, and especially if they find their account meets their need for convenience, security, and privacy.

As we look forward, we continue to embrace the broadest possible definition of financial inclusion for women—not just access to services, not just credit, but informed, meaningful use of valuable and innovative financial products to build security and prosperity.