African Money | Money Leaders

African women remain the backbone of our economies as farmers, traders, scientists, entrepreneurs, and leaders in many other sectors. Africans hold themselves and their leaders accountable for delivering on gender equality and commitments to women’s empowerment. This is the message from Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

The African Union (AU) commemorates Pan-African Women’s Day on the 31st of July. The commemoration is linked to the AU Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow campaign. This year focuses on Innovative Solutions for Financial and Economic Inclusion for African Women.

Even though there are numerous initiatives, policies and programs aimed at accelerating development and fighting poverty, many have failed in Africa. Dr Hellen Namawejje is working in Uganda to address challenges related to financial illiteracy and a lack of financial awareness in women as part of an early career research fellowship program at Future Africa (FAR-LeaF), focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills.

“One of the reasons for this is that Africans are not introduced to the essential principles of smart money management or given personal money knowledge at home or school. This leaves them susceptible to becoming victims of everyday money decisions, jeopardising most aspects of their lives – including health, education, agriculture, food supply, peace and reduce violence, financial security and hopes of financial independence now and in old age. These issues impact both genders, but females are most affected.”

Dr Namawejje is a lecturer at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and uses mathematical applications to translate research evidence into policy. Her research speaks to Innovative Solutions for Financial and Economic Inclusion for African Women, intended to improve financial awareness and literacy. Her target audience will be exposed to practical ways to become money leaders rather than money spenders.

She plans to achieve this by bringing different specialists on board to train rural women on other financial knowledge concepts and skills – for example, the relevance of budgeting and planning, interest rates, saving and investing accounts, risk diversification and insurance, time value of money, and how these concepts can be applied in their daily lives – such as the use of improved pocket-friendly methods of farming.

The research aims to improve the quality of life. Specific objectives would first be to perform a needs assessment before developing training materials and putting methods in place and then to link the newly financially aware women to different associations within their vicinity. These may impact them financially in healthcare, insurance, agriculture, banking, financial services, planning for retirement and women’s associations – to name a few.

Heidi Sonnekus | FAR-LeaF Program


The Future Africa Research Leader Fellowship (FAR-LeaF) is a fellowship programme, focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills, to address the complex, inter-linked challenges of health, well-being, and environmental risks in Africa.