The IFC has published a market study on housing finance for women in three countries titled ‘Her Home – Housing Finance for Women’ exploring the scope and nature of women’s housing finance markets in Colombia, India, and Kenya. The report highlights some of the barriers to women’s access to housing finance, the considerable and often overlooked market size posed by women borrowers, and the possible need for specific gender-related housing finance products and services.
Some key findings from the report:
- Female-headed households (defined as households in which a woman is the primary income earner or decision-maker) constitute 26 percent of households in Colombia, nine percent in India, and 25 percent in Kenya. In all three countries, female-headed households had less access to banks and other formal sources of finance than male-headed households and joint decision-making households.
- Self-employment emerged as a common source of women’s employment.
- A small percentage of female-headed households have previously taken housing loans, though a significant population planned to apply for housing loans in the next five years.
- Personal savings, followed by formal loans, are the preferred source of housing finance among female-headed households.
- Median monthly savings for the purpose of housing increased as monthly incomes increased.
The report presents the business case for women’s housing finance products. There are notable barriers to women’s housing finance, but the report argues that the market can be addressed through private sector solutions, and public sector policies. Case studies from the three countries outlined that housing finance programs and policies tailored to women have produced positive results. In all three countries, there were some institutions and government policies that had housing finance programs tailored to women. Additionally, institutions active in women-led Small and Medium Enterprise lending specifically reported business growth and significantly lower non-performing loans.
To appropriately address the needs of women in housing finance, the report outlined a number of proposals. Some include:
- There is need to research household incomes and average loan sizes before creating new products and services to attract women’s segments of housing finance.
- Lenders also ought to understand the varied goals that women hope to accomplish with housing finance. From the study, women sought to accomplish three different housing goals: home improvement, incremental construction, and purchase.
- There is also need to develop products, terms, and services that meet women’s needs. These, coupled with financial literacy programs tied to housing finance would strengthen the capacity and confidence of women borrowers, while also strengthening financial institutions.
- Borrowing procedures could also be simplified to improve the housing finance environment for women borrowers, and increase product accessibility.
The report therefore emphasizes the fact that the market for financial services targeted towards women is large and growing, particularly in developing countries. This market represents a significant business opportunity for financial institutions and policymakers who are willing to address patriarchal biases and pursue gender equity.
Download the report on the link below.Her Home – Housing Finance for Women