he winner in this year’s CGAP Photo Contest deftly captures the uncertain future many young women in the Middle East and North Africa face. In his thought-provoking image, Hesham Fathy shows a young Sudanese woman looking pensively into the horizon as she leans against a fence, which could either trap her or free her. Despite the poverty of the surrounding landscape, she holds a smartphone, giving her access to a world beyond her own.
Although she is connected digitally to a wider world through the messaging service WhatsApp, which she was using before Fathy took the photo, the young woman is also held back by her financial and social circumstances.
For the 13th year, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) invited photographers from around the world to illustrate, with compelling images, the impact that financial inclusion can have on the 1.7 billion people who are unbanked. For the first time, the 2018 photo contest focused solely on Africa and accepted short video submissions.
Fathy’s photo entitled, “Hoping to Get Out into the Future”, was selected as the Grand Prize Winner out of 614 photo entries from over 30 African countries. Msia Kibona Clark, contest judge and assistant professor of African Studies at Howard University in Washington, DC, said of the winning photo: “The image is so evocative, yet it is open to interpretation. The way she is holding the phone, it symbolizes opening up possibilities.”
While throughout the world more men and women are gaining access to financial services through a bank or mobile phone, Africa still lags behind other regions: 70% are banked in South Asia and in East Asia and Pacific; 65% in Europe and Central Asia; 54% in Latin America and Caribbean; and 43% in Sub-Saharan and Middle East and North Africa. The 2017 Global Findex also found that in developing countries the gender gap remains unchanged at 9 percentage points. Furthermore, women in the Middle East and North Africa are among the most financially excluded. Mobile or smart phones and other digital technologies can be powerful tools for the 81 percent of women worldwide, such as the one in Fathy’s winning photo, who own a mobile phone but may not have a financial account.
Financial inclusion has an important role to play in achieving many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly for women and other marginalized groups. It can help unlock access to basic, life-changing services, such as education and health, that help women as well as men to capture new opportunities and build sustainable livelihoods.
For this year’s contest, CGAP invited submissions in three areas that are instrumental in advancing financial inclusion: Reaching Excluded People; Brighter Prospects for Young People; and Digital Finance and Development. In Reaching Excluded People, the winning photograph, by Kelvin Kariithi from Kenya, speaks to how financial technology can empower the elderly; the winner for Brighter Prospects, Anas Kamal from Egypt captures resilience and optimism, which contest judge Indira Williams Babic, Director of Photography at the Newseum described as “propelled from the foggy background, this beautiful image evokes a sense of future prospects this young man may have and pursue”; and the winner in Digital Finance and Development, Alison Wright of the United States, illustrates innovation: how digital finance helped to buy a stove, which was then used to access power and subsequently to charge a mobile phone.
The Grand Prize for short video was awarded to “Subsidy Deposited in the E-Wallet” by Gnim Zabdiel Mignake in Togo. It shows how government subsidies for agriculture, distributed as mobile money into an e-wallet, helps farmers in that country.
Complete List of 2018 Contest Winners
Grand Prize Winners
- Grand Prize in Photography
Hesham Fathy, Hoping to Get Out into the Future (Sudan)
- Grand Prize in Short Video
Gnim Zabdiel Mignake, Subsidy Deposited in the E-Wallet (Togo)
Thematic Winners in Photography
- Reaching Excluded People
Kelvin Kariithi, Wavinya – Airtime Seller (Kenya)
- Brighter Prospects for Young People
Anas Kamal, The Man of Sizes (Egypt)
- Digital Finance and Development.
Alison Wright, Digital Finance Bring Clean Energy (Uganda)
Honorable Mentions in Photography
- Joseph Tsongo, Pêcheur en milieu rural [Fishermen in Rural Areas] (Democratic Republic of Congo)
- Anas Kamal, The Way to Work (Egypt)
- Ly Hoang Long, The Sailors (Madagascar)
- Mustafa Shorbaji, Boat Dealers in Aswan (Egypt)
- Mansour Mohsen Mahross, Freedom (Ethiopia)
- Gabriel Diamond, Following My Footsteps (Senegal)
- Natalie Brown, A Unifying Goal (Senegal)
- Zinyange Auntony, Differently Abled (Zimbabwe)
- Ahmed Ibrahim, An African Woman (Egypt)
Honorable Mentions in Short Video
- Jean Marie Leosgho, Financial Inclusion with Agency Banking (Senegal)
- James Karuga, Low Interest Loans Impact on Farmers (Kenya)
People’s Choice in Photography
- Kellyne Wairimu Njonge, Seeing Our World Through A Lens of Hope (Kenya)