Digital Sub-Wallets for Financial Empowerment of Women - CARE

Digital Sub-Wallets for Increased Financial Empowerment of Women

The Digital Sub-Wallets program aimed for women to have equitable influence over household financial decisions and to use mobile financial technology to improve their own and their family’s opportunities and lives.


There are few, if any, mobile platforms designed around women’s financial habits and needs. However, financial inclusion of women cannot be fully achieved by focusing on financial products; gender norms must also be addressed. CARE recognized the need to design a savings group approach that would simultaneously address women’s unique needs in terms of formal financial services as well as individual agency, relations, and informal structures (e.g. social and gender norms) which underpin the barriers women face in accessing financial services and exercising control over earned income.


The Digital Sub-Wallets project aimed to promote gender equality in western Uganda through two interventions: mobile banking and household financial counseling. In the mobile banking intervention, participating Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) opened a group bank account through Post Bank; individual members could then open their own accounts, linking to the group account and using mobile technology to access their banking information. The second intervention was a series of gender dialogue and financial counseling sessions that were delivered to households.

of female VSLA members applied for a digital banking app

of female VSLA members applied for a digital banking app

of those offered household counseling chose to participate

of those offered household counseling chose to participate

Project achievements

58% of female Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) members applied for a Post Bank digital banking product when it was offered. During the pilot, both phone ownership and bank account ownership among women showed statistically significant increases in the test site. Nearly all – 99.6% –  of those who were offered household counseling chose to participate in the sessions, and the feedback was positive.

What set the Digital Sub-Wallets project apart?

The Digital Sub-Wallets project included gender and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and protection training as part of the intervention. All trainers were trained in gender sensitivity and prevention of GBV, so as to enhance their skills in supporting women during household dialogue sessions.

What works to increase financial inclusion and women’s financial autonomy?

This article shares two experiences where CARE worked with partner banks and local non-profits to deliver financial services coupled with intentional interventions designed to address gender norms. Intentional designs showing promise

Read the article

Digital Sub-Wallets for Increased Financial Empowerment of Women Pilot Report Summary

This report summarizes the findings from a pilot study of two interventions intended to promote gender equality, a mobile banking innovation and financial counseling for households, in western Uganda between September 2016 and March 2017

Read the report on CARE Evaluations

CARE Uganda Semi-Rapid Gender Analysis of Digital Sub-Wallets

Several gender issues were raised during the pilot phase which need to be addressed prior to full scale-up of the project. This assessment informs how the project will approach gender norms and power relations in order to facilitate the change that the project is aiming to affect.

Read the report on CARE Evaluations

Digital Sub-Wallets and Household Dialogues Final Report

This final report from the Digital Sub-Wallets (DSW) teams shows how digital sub-wallets and household dialogues can be applied to combat issues for women on financial and digital illiteracy, financial access, and restrictive social norms.

Read the final report here.