Access to financial resources and appropriate financial products allows households to make changes in response to current shocks or the anticipation of future shocks. A resilient financial system is about more than the ability of individual banks to withstand shocks. It is about the system’s tendency to generate shocks in the first place, and its ability to adapt and evolve in response to them. A resilient financial system allows us to adapt and adopt interventions to respond to market shocks, delivers products tailored to the needs of all households, and generates capital and liquidity buffers that alleviate risk and encourage financial institutions to contribute to economic recovery rather than reinforce shocks. A resilient financial system’s institutions can systematically function in times of crisis. Ultimately, a resilient and inclusive financial system can reduce inequality by expanding access to finance to vulnerable groups, especially women, and increasing investment, savings, and productivity. This results in better food security, improved health, and nutrition.

INCLUSION PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN A RESILIENT MARKET SYSTEM. Applying a “gender lens” to the system ensures that opportunities and barriers faced by women are at the forefront of any changes. By empowering women in times of shock or stress, we build the resiliency of women as market actors in the financial ecosystem. We also strengthen the greater market system itself because people are valued as a resource for problem solving and allocating resources. The Activity centers women’s inclusion in its work and vision for building a resilient market system. This is done by promoting inclusion through various planned interventions and prioritizing alternate inclusive strategies during times of shock and stress. The Activity achieves gender integration by prioritizing three main parameters for women’s economic empowerment: improving women’s access to markets, increasing women’s decision-making power, and increasing women’s leadership roles. To support financial systems resiliency, in early 2020, the Activity began an assessment to understand how it could increase the resiliency of agri-SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The assessment was originally meant to focus on opportunities to enhance the Activity's impact and increase financial access during the pandemic. However, the result was a year-long assessment of the agent banking model. This report will highlight the model's ability to build resiliency during the pandemic.

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