Today, International Women’s Day 2021, we are celebrating Jefa’s launch in Mexico 🚀. This marks the start of our journey to be the world’s leading banking solution for the world’s 1.3 billion underserved women.
We wanted to take a moment to reflect on why we started Jefa:
The world is one-size-fits-men
By default, our world is designed for (and by) men. From the fact that women are more likely to die in a car crash because we’ve designed car safety for the male body to Google’s voice recognition being 70% more accurate for male voices, there are countless conscious and unconscious gender biases in the world we live in.
At Jefa, a guiding principle behind every decision we make is: how can this better serve the women we are creating for? We are actively building against the norm, by having a different foundational principle: not default, but active.
The question then arises — what would the world look like if it was designed for women? How would the nature of the spaces we inhabit, products we buy, services we procure, change? If we started designing with a new default setting (designing for women) tomorrow, what might the world look like in 2030?
Would stay-at-home mothers and caregivers still be considered unpaid labour? Would feminine hygiene products still be considered luxury goods?
Our world’s economic system does not work for women
To create a world where women can flourish, we need to start by fixing the most widely prevailing world system: the economy. The economy is the backbone of how resources are produced, used and managed in society. In some way or another, it is a force that affects all of our lives.
As far back as we can see, women have been left out of our global economic system:
In the Biblical era, the sons received the inheritance and were expected to use the estate to support the women in the family. In ancient Greece, women were not allowed to inherit property or take a case to court unless a male guardian was in charge. In England in the 1100s, married women could not own property, run taverns or stores or sue in court.
And today? Things haven’t gotten much better. 42% of women around the world don’t have a bank account. 90% lack access to formal credit. 74% lack access to savings. And of the women who do have a bank account, 73% are dissatisfied with it. Financial services were not always designed to exclude women, but they were implicitly designed for men.
We can’t have a fair and equitable world until women participate in the global economy
In spite of strong evidence of realization of women’s economic rights in recent decades — especially in terms of work and income, advances in economies and sustainable development — women still remain disproportionately affected by poverty, lack of land and inheritance rights, and discrimination and exploitation in the labour market.
How do we fix this? By giving women access to the financial services that men have. Access to financial services will do wonders to reduce vulnerabilities, create jobs, and increase security. All while immensely strengthening our global society.
So: where do we start?
We start by building Jefa: a banking solution for women that empowers them with the tools they need to create a better livelihood. At Jefa, we take a multi-facted approach that addresses the numerous barriers women face to entering the global economy. This includes using gender-disaggregate data to inform our product, designing distribution channels to reach women in places they trust, and providing services that are tailored to women’s distinct financial behavior.
Where does that lead us?
While we start small with a digital banking product, eventually — over our years of operations — Jefa will have collected the largest database of information about women’s financial livelihoods. Our focus then will shift as we work to radically transform the entire financial service industry by ensuring all products and services that exist reach and serve women and men equally. Tactically, this would mean we’ll likely grow into a B2B company that provides gender-inclusive infrastructure for all banks globally: credit scoring models, financial education resources, wealth management tools, investment advisors, the list goes on.
Why are we doing this?
We’re doing this because it’s important. Because equality matters. But that’s not all. Empowering women is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Including women in our global economy has a huge upside: it boosts productivity and increases economic diversification and income equality.
Empowering women to take part in our global economy would lead to a 26% increase in global GDP. This is a $28 trillion opportunity.
Jefa exists to be the catalyst that will create a paradigm-shift for the global economic system. We are chasing a vision that will address the unmet needs of half of the world’s population.
Our vision is not to build another app or fintech product or company — our vision is to build a new world: A world that is banking on women.