The State of Savings and Retail Banking in Africa

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

The WSBI has conducted two research reports tracking the progress of retail and savings banks in their financial inclusion efforts across Africa (2018, 2019). These reports found that challenges persist around driving client centricity within the institution as well as the formation of partnerships across institutions to offer more low cost effective products.

In 2020 and 2021, the research efforts are focusing on finding solutions to these challenges. The research focus has thus turned to producing a series of case studies, each of which focuses on one theme that an institution may focus on to drive its response to the challenges outlined above.

The case studies are:

COVID-19 in Africa – Customer, FSP and regulator perspectives: The first case study looks at the impact of COVID-19 on institutions and the retail financial services market. Whilst it does not propose solutions similar to the other case studies, it helps frame the additional challenges that institutions faced during the upheaval that accompanied the pandemic. Leveraging mobile for the low income market: The mobile phone is becoming ubiquitous across Africa. Its full potential to offer financial services has however not been entirely exploited. What lessons exist for FSPs that are looking at leveraging mobile engagements with their customers in Africa.

Innovative business models and partnerships: Financial services providers have many options to partner with other institutions to enhance their offering to the market and achieve cost effective scale. What have been some of the successful innovative models applied across Africa?
Serving customers effectively through digitisation: Digital is touted as more efficient, simple and effective. How have institutions gone about driving digital transformation of their own internal systems, as well as their client engagements. Are there lessons to be had for institutions embarking on a digitisation journey?

Financial services for a specific market – Agriculture: The African economy has a large agricultural sector that plays a key role in its economic development, as well as the livelihood of its people. What have FSPs been doing to target this key market
Tentative – Client centricity and new data: The final case study is tentatively scheduled to focus on designing truly customer-centric products by leveraging information that has been previously unused by FSPs.

Please join us for a discussion on the third and fourth case studies – where these studies will be presented and debated across the African membership. The agenda for the discussion is outlined below.


15.00 – Welcome

15.05 – Introduction

Overview of the State of the Industry research series

15.15 – Business models for the mass market

What options are available for an FSP operating in the low-income market?

When is which option ideally deployed?

15.30 – Digitalisation to serve low-income customers

Digitalisation in context, more than a channel

Take-aways from institutions that successfully implemented digitalisation

15.45 – Case study – ABB

Barid-Cash, a successful case of digitalisation across a business

Partnerships, how has it served ABB?

16.00 – Discussion

16.15 – Conclusions

Watch Replay


What a journey it has been!

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

A basic account is a secure entry point for previously unbanked people to become financially more resilient. It also opens a whole world of opportunities – be it for investing in education for themselves or their children, or in growing their businesses.

By Weselina Angelow

In the words of one of the customers of a Scale2Save initiative, implemented in partnership with Centenary Bank:

“I got to know about CenteXpress account from my friend who helped me open the account. I learned about its benefits from my friend and I also

started opening accounts for other students (through the digital link feature)

I have greatly benefited from CenteXpress through the commissions that I have received for opening accounts for others. Further, my parents send me school tuition digitally via CenteXpress. I also use it to buy airtime. More importantly, it helps me save the little amounts that I can set aside from my tailoring business.”

Nakayima Magret, Student and tailor. Kikuubo, Masaka, Uganda.

Between 2016 and 2022 Scale2Save financially included more than 1.3 million women, young people and farmers in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire that helped us better understand – especially in the midst of a pandemic – how, when and why savings contribute to household wellbeing, financial resilience or (creating) business opportunities of or for the people served.

  • Given that the majority of customers are low-income, investments in expanding, restarting, or opening a business can increase income quickly, thereby improving customers’ economic status and financial stability. On average, about 49% used their savings for investment purposes, and most of the time for business-related investments. Almost all financial service providers recorded use of savings for businesses purposes across nearly half of their customers who’d used their savings, 50% of them being male adults. Business investment was also common among adult women. This largely stems from the fact that certain partner FSPs purposely targeted female micro-entrepreneurs and encouraged them to save toward the purchase of a productive asset or another business-related goal. If small balance savings play such an important role for small businesses to sustain, how much more a loan attached to it can assure small business to grow and help create jobs? Something worth exploring going forward.
  • Beyond business investments, approximately 20% of customers used their savings to cover household needs or to finance educational needs.
  • 32% of customers across the target FSPs, indicated that they had experienced some type of shock since they opened their account. 65% of customers who reported experiencing one or multiple shocks indicated that they had used some of their savings to cope with these emergencies.
  • Gender and age aspects matter hugely, but also location and income levels for driving inclusive savings. The research observed differences between ways in which young female customers and young male customers used their savings. Young males more frequently use their savings for business-related purposes, while young females more often use savings for consumption smoothing and for other household-related expenses.

12 unique business models tested

Scale2Save tested and explored 12 very unique business models with a broad range of financial services partners to prove the viability of low balance savings and understand how the institutional model affects the ability to serve the low-income market. Seven of these service partners being WSBI members of which three (BRAC Uganda Bank Limited, Finca Uganda, LAPO Microfinance Bank Nigeria) joined the WSBI family through Scale2Save.

  • The variety of institutions created a whole world of experience that all worked towards the same goal: build partnerships and solutions that are intentional and simple but meet the needs of the specific customer segments they are serving.
  • Sometime this journey was painful, accompanied by repeated trial and error, endless data segmentation and interpolation, all accompanied by an enormous agenda for cultural change to sensitize all value chain actors for what it takes to offer digital savings to low-income people.
  • Here again, female preferences as for the type of information they wish to receive have to be taken into account. It was revealing to us that, across the board, product features seemed to matter less to women than information about channel features and fee structures followed by the need for personal touch points.
  • Digital has been a game changer throughout and not just during COVID but needs to be handled with a gender lens and accompanied by human touch if it is to be successful. If a product worked for women, it equally tended to work for men.
  • The local sales forces, roving agents, field officers, family & friends equipped with digital devices were incremental for creating the volumes of transactions and deposits needed for making the business case for small balance savings work.
  • Financial education – in particular personal nudges – that take women needs and the digital gender gap into account are considered incremental for improving digital account usage.



Scale2Save became a strong brand and a community of practice that conducted useful sector research, collaborated with a wide array of sector players and that facilitates disseminating the learnings amongst our members and strategic partners.

Our sector research

For four years in a row, The State of Savings and Retail Banking Sector Series that we put out in partnership with FinMark Trust shed light on innovative models, applied by the now 27 WSBI member institutions in 20 countries on the African continent, sometimes enriched with insights from other sector players such as MNOs, Fintechs, the national Financial Sector Deepening units, the most recent on the state of SME Finance and separately on Innovative Agric Platform models on the African continent.


Collaboration with sector players

  • Jointly with Efina (the lead Financial Sector Development Organization in Nigeria) we piloted a customer segmentation tool that creates different customer personas and allows Nigerian financial sector players to define their pro-women or pro-youth financial outreach strategies and that has already generated interest from other financial markets.
  • Together with Centenary Bank and Bank of Uganda (BoU)– the Central Bank – we tested the CGAP customer outcome framework. This framework could help Ugandan FSPs to assess how they meet customer needs around safety, convenience, fairness, voice and choice of services. It can also help the Ugandan and other central banks to assess how the sector meets the goals of its financial inclusion strategy.
  • Insights from Scale2Save allowed us to participate in the European Microfinance Platform’s Action Group on better metrics for savings.

We now have a better understanding of the metrics that track high-level outcomes. This will help WSBI to better tell the story about the huge impact its network has to develop people, businesses and communities.


Ongoing dissemination of our learnings to the membership and the wider sector

Our national inclusion events with partners and ecosystem players in Lagos (Nigeria), in Kampala (Uganda) and our close out event in Paris (France) this year received overwhelming interest amongst a couple hundred sector players. In addition, Scale2Save will has put out more than 100 case studies, learning papers, industry reports and blog pieces over the course of its lifetime.

Scale2Save officially ended on 31 August and closed administratively over the course of October. The team however continues unpacking the learnings coming out of Scale2Save on women, youth and farmers, to highlight what drives their economic activity, empowerment and customer engagement, also with a view of continue contributing with learnings to WSBI member best practice exchange and to the ongoing conversation of industry players about financial services’ contribution to impact and wider outcome goals.

For the past six years, Scale2Save has highlighted our African members’ contribution to inclusive finance. Our aim is to have more members benefit from this experience and join our community of practice, which nurtures the role that WSBI members play. It has been a great pleasure to be part of this journey and we thank all our team members, partners institutions, consultants, researchers, national development bodies and policy makers as well as our sponsors the Mastercard Foundation for six years filled with learnings and excitement. We will continue sharing Scale2Save outcomes to keep the momentum alive and raise awareness of the power of the WSBI network.

About the author: Weselina Angelow is WSBI’s Scale2Save Programme Director.


The Power of Community-Based Organizations to Mobilize Farmers’ Savings

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

A Scale2Save project in Cote d’Ivoire shares what they’ve learned working with farmer cooperatives as financial agents

In Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, cocoa is harvested twice a year, in May-June and in October-December. Between seasons, most smallholder farmers do not generate revenue, but they still have several costs to cover, such as seeds and fertilizer. Managing cash flows to cover production costs is a common struggle, as 72 percent of farmers are below the poverty line and less than 10 percent have a bank account, according to a CGAP survey.

A Scale2Save project, launched in 2018 with the MFI Advans Cote d’Ivoire, aims to help smallholder farmers address this challenge by enlisting farmer cooperatives to act as financial agents which can hold their members’ savings. The project is built on the strong relationship and high level of trust that exist between farmers and their cooperatives.

A successful start

Three years after the start of this project, 24 cooperatives are now on board, each of them enabling about 300 farmers to deposit and withdraw money from their Advans bank accounts at the cooperative’s office. The cooperatives’ location close to the farmers’ fields makes it more convenient for the farmers and is safer than traveling with cash to the closest bank branch, usually located several kilometers away.

Now farmers can systematically deposit some of their harvest season sales revenues into accounts at the cooperative and then make withdrawals later in the year as needed. The savings allow them to smooth cash flows and improve crop production management. Over the long term, the farmers’ savings could help them to diversify their income sources by investing in a wider range of crops and to become more and more financially autonomous from the cooperatives.

The cooperatives were motivated to join this partnership for two main reasons. One, they can receive a profit through the customers’ transactions. And two, perhaps more importantly, it further strengthens their relationship with the farmers, having a positive effect on the cooperative’s reputation and farmers’ networking opportunities.

By the end of 2021, Advans had collected more than $17 million in savings from some 86,000 famers through their cooperative network.  Now the target is to raise that amount to over $19 million in deposits from 120,000 farmers by mid-2022.

Challenges and learning along the way

During the project’s pilot, we encountered a few challenges, which helped us understand better how to provide an effective service that consolidates trust in the agency banking system for all players. Here’s what we learned:

Motivation is not enough; training is key. Becoming a third-party agent was a completely new business for the cooperative and, despite their enthusiasm, staff found it more complex than expected. Originally only one training was foreseen, but in reality several trainings were needed at all staff levels to ensure a 100 percent uptake and for the cooperative to become a fully functioning third-party agent. The trainings focused mainly on cash flow management, and financial and digital literacy.
Prepare for growth with automating solutions. As the network of cooperative agents grew, Advans could no longer rely on ad-hoc exchanges with each one, so it had to set up an agency banking solution in the form of a digital application that enabled effective transactions with a growing network. This application ensured little to no errors in the transactions and a speedy service to the customers. Automating the system also enhances the growth potential, taking Advans closer to its goal of reaching out to a larger number of customers in a variety of agricultural sectors.

Develop relations with mobile network operators to ensure a good system network connection. During the pilot, an unstable mobile network connection in rural areas was a clear obstacle to the cooperatives’ ability to provide financial services. The most common problem this created were undelivered text messages that made customers uneasy when they did not receive confirmation of transactions even a long time after they were made. This had a negative consequence on trust, the pillar of the cooperative-farmer relationship. The solution was to approach the mobile network operators and call on them to put everything in place to ensure a well-working and stable mobile network available on site for the customers to use. This challenge remains even now at certain locations.
Design communications to take into account all literacy levels. Since a high proportion of smallholder farmers are illiterate, the usual financial education tools were not appropriate. To address this particular challenge, Advans developed simple graphic financial education material. The material included illustrations and step-by-step guidance on how to make transactions, making it accessible to both literate and illiterate customers.

The way forward

Despite the successful uptake so far, the business model is not yet viable for the financial service provider. After three years of project implementation, data shows a low number of withdrawals at the cooperative, suggesting that the fees are not attractive and that farmers prefer to spend time and money to travel to the closest bank branch where withdrawals are free. Advans Côte d’Ivoire is now reviewing the pricing strategy.

The gender and age gap also remains a challenge. Out of the 86,000 farmers on-boarded by the end of 2021, only 11 percent are female and 6 percent are under 30 years old. Advans is working with international and local NGOs to empower female farmers and is planning to work directly with women’s groups in 2022.

The model’s challenges are not small, but the potential impact is huge , as 70 percent of Ivory Coast’s population depends to some extent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Scale2Save is sharing the learning from this process as widely as possible, with the aim of showing a way forward to build smallholder resilience and contribute to financial inclusion.

This blog post was originally published on the FinDev Gateway blog

Click to open


Different Strokes for Different Folks

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

A Customer Onboarding Comparative Analysis

At its inception in 2016, the Scale2Save Program (referred to as the Program in this report) set out to acquire one million customers through 10 innovative projects across the six countries of Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal and Morocco.

All 10 projects were uniquely defined by a product/service mix that targeted diverse sectors and market segments of the local economies – ranging from micro, small and medium enterprise (MSMEs) to agriculture to micro-insurance.

As the Program is wrapping up, this publication looks at the strategic operations and tactics applied by the Scale2Save partners in East and West Africa to acquire customers.

An attempt is also made to analyse the quality and impact of the level of effortand investment made, evidently at varying degrees, against the outcomes that were delivered, particularly regarding the experience a customer gets through that first touchpoint

Objective of the Case Study

This case study sets out, ab initio, to validate the dynamic nature of customer targeting and acquisition, and the varying degrees of success that accompany each tactical approach. While not in doubt that in effect, a combination of tactics would ordinarily be desirable to achieve the expected outcomes, it is safe to assume that one or two dominant tactics tend to carry the greatest burden of the customer acquisition drive for any product or service.

Download the Comparative Analysis

September 2022



What constitutes a viable business model for small scale savings?

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Problems of high poverty rates and financial exclusion in sub-Saharan Africa, the correlation between them, and low formal savings rates, remain a major concern.

The market potential of various low-income segments to save is poorly understood by many formal financial service providers (FSPs). Customer and potential customer needs – and how much they can and/or wish to afford to pay to meet those needs – are inadequately reflected in FSP’s business models, customer interfaces and interactions. The resulting poor customer experience gives rise to very high incidences of dormancy and inactivity in account usage. This represents a significant drain on bank costs and undermines potentially sustainable business cases in delivering accessible financial services to these segments.

Why reading this new learning paper ?

This paper highlights 3 different business models for small scale savings including key revenues and costs drivers developed by Centenary Bank in Uganda, Lapo Microfinance Bank in Nigeria and Advans Microfinance Bank in Ivory Coast

Download the Learning Paper


Nurse and child in the field

Scale2Save learning paper: Making micro-insurance work

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Based on Scale2Save partners' case studies, this learning paper explores the challenges for micro-insurance uptake for low-income customers, and presents solutions and opportunities.

BRUSSELS, 28 April 2021 – Today the Scale2Save programme launches a new learning paper. It forms part of the learning series featuring the experience of partners when developing financial products and services designed for low-income customers. It was written by Scale2Save Local Technical Specialist Agnès Fall with support from the Savings Learning Lab at Itad.

This paper aims to support learning on microinsurance in Africa by giving an overview of the sector and presenting examples on how to successfully overcome challenges related to the uptake of microinsurance while also taking into account future hurdles related to Covid-19 and its impact.

Microinsurance encompasses insurance products that protect against shocks faced by under-served, low-income populations in developing countries. These products are provided in exchange for regular premium payments proportionate to their incomes, which take into account irregular income flows.

Microinsurers increasingly tailor their products, policies and delivery channels to the needs of the poor. Policies are often written in simple terms to include a variety of options such as licensed insurers, health care providers, community-based organisations, microfinance institutions and NGOs. In addition, mobile insurance has become increasingly important to reach remote customers.

While we observe growing demand and access to formal financial services such as bank accounts, mobile money and credit, the demand for formal insurance remains low despite the ‘micro-insurance revolution’ in the past decade.

One of the questions that Scale2Save tries to answer is to what extent savings contribute to financial resilience and what would be there right mix of products that adds value to people’s lives.

The households that Scale2Save partners are serving often experience challenges to manage cash flows, cope with risks, and raise money to meet large, unplanned expenses. These households can benefit from using a combination of financial tools to meet their needs. That is why this learning paper explores the mechanisms that might trigger the uptake of savings-linked health, life or funeral insurance.


​​Agency banking: Learning papers explore pricing, technology preparedness

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

WSBI's Scale2Save programme programme released today two new learning papers that explore pricing around agency banking. Written by Scale2Save Local Technical Specialist Kimathi Githachuri​, the papers cover two specific areas of agent banking: pricing and technology costs.

Agency banking pricing: Decisions along evolution

​The first paper, titled Agency Banking Pricing: Decisions along evolution focuses on how pricing strategies have been applied by banks in trying to create viable agency banking services in West Africa, and to what extent distribution management plays a core value proposition for customers. The analysis contained in this paper helps frame some of the debate swirling on social media during past year on digital financial services (DFS) channels in Kenya – the birthplace of the hugely popular M-PESA mobile money service.

The paper includes a case study on FCMB Nigeria, a top-tier retail bank​. The study delves into FCMB’s ‘EasyClub’ for farmers in the north of the country.​ The paper also explores EasyClub pricing strategies to motivate deeper agent network distribution, which remains crucial to greater access and use by farmers.

Across the different geographies, from the east to the west of Africa, it is evident some common pricing strategies could potentially be employed, with of course variations to suit the local conditions. A set of learnings provided, if applied, may help shape strategic design, particularly at the beginning of the agency banking network roll out​. One finding explains that customers would rather pay for trustworthy services readily available and reliable to them. They will shun cheaper service with lower distribution footprint or less reliability.

Agency Banking Pricing: Boon or bummer

The second paper, titled Agency Banking Technology: Boon or bummer​, ​​looks at how technology application has proven to be the challenge that has served both as a boost and a bummer, in equal measure, during the financial inclusion journey of the last 10 years.​

To explain both, the paper provides a case study on microfinance institution Advans in Ivory Coast​ to argue that it may be possible, and in fact quite common, not to find a technology solution that fits a local situation. An institution’s existing technology service providers, which have already acquired client knowledge, may have know-how on agency and/or digital banking solutions. That said, the author advises banks to look first at the greater service provider market to find out if a workable solution exists that can potentially be tailored to an instiution’s situation, meanwhile avoiding being a “Guinea ​pig” for a service provider.

Another finding shows cost of acquiring technology solutions invariably affects thro​​ughput price of service to customers, as the institution may want to recover whole or parts of the associated costs of the technology. That means ensuring the pricing structure agreed upon factors this in. Githachuri​ also notes the value in seriously considering shared agency banking solutions instead of cost duplications on a solution. Easily shared bilaterally or between multiple financial institutions to not only share initial costs, but also distributing future development costs.

Agency Banking Pricing: Decisions along evolutionAgency Banking Technology: Boon or bummerSEE VIDEO


Women matter: Local savings groups in Côte d'Ivoire

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Abidjan, Côte D'Ivoire, 8 March 2020:  ​Financial inclusion of women remains a major issue in places like Côte d'Ivoire. That's especially true when it comes to women's autonomy and their ability to “open up" within local communities.v

In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, people have limited and unsuitable access to conventional financial services. Data show 37% are banked in a financial institution, just 2% were able to borrow money from a formal institution, and 36% who have used loans from informal sources (source Findex).

Vulnerable women face an even starker reality. Financially excluded, living in extreme poverty in rural areas, they remain ill-informed about financial basics. That’s why it’s so important for women to be allowed to gain access to adequate banking services in a world where they oftentimes live in remote areas. Tackling this challenge requires long-term support where savings and the mobile service are nearby, especially among rural populations.

ADVANS sees a way. A leading international microfinance group with operations in nine countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, they look to strengthen the capacity of rural women to save, mobilise and manage their own resources, and to redistribute them by offering formal financial services.

Field agents deployed to boost inclusion
Field agents have a big task to boost inclusion and play a crucial role in the progressive empowerment of women living in rural areas excluded from formal banking systems.
ADVANS gets this. They deploy field agents in the West-African country. Present in Côte d’Ivoire since 2012 and working with cocoa communities, the microfinance institution has set up partnerships with international NGOs, which aim to promote banking access to women organised in village savings and credit associations (VSLA).

ADVANS strategy: A two-step process
ADVANS uses a two-stage process to widen access for women in the financial market:
Step 1 – NGOs come in and help create and formalise VSLAs, – village savings and loan associations – made up of 15 to 30 members. Known for being well organised, these VSLAs meet weekly and save regularly. Savings amassed are kept in a physical fund and then redistributed in credit form to finance income-generating activities (IGAs) or to deal with emergencies. ADVANS sees it as an improved form of tontine. The NGO’s mission is to follow these groups to maturity: a one-year period during which the group forms and follows along the “VSLA” methodology.
Step 2 – This is where ADVANS steps in. Once groups have been assessed as “fairly mature” by the non-governmental organisations, they are put in contact with ADVANS who then deploy trained field agents. Those agents ensure properly functioning financial inclusion by taking charge of financial education and products for VSLAs. More specifically training them on the use of their accounts and a digital mobile service. ADVANS has proved that their specific products and services offer are adapted to VSLAs.

ADVANS implements an innovative system that guarantees easy account access. This completely digital service allows people to make free deposits or withdrawals from their various savings accounts and in any zone.
Innovation working for women
ADVANS’ innovative project that helps women works for three reasons. First, because ADVANS’ efforts, built on partnerships with key players such as NGOs, form strong roots in rural communities. Second, their project capitalises on the links formed between people in the community and traditional savings practices, all while allowing the savings and group credit processes to be formalised and digitalised. Finally, ADVANS allows VSLAs members to secure and increase their savings, to enter the formal banking system and to be introduced to the use of digital financial services, by offering remunerated bank accounts. Members benefit from credit products preferable to informal credits, due to their lower interest rate and the access to a higher amount for a longer duration.

Results: Thousands enabled
Since the launch of the agricultural banking project in 2015, ADVANS enabled 14,400 members with VSLA to save more than € 183,200. Some 1,770 members obtained loans for a total of € 190,800. Between 80 to 85% of the VSLAs comprise women.
Lessons learned: Loans nudge savings, groups comprising mostly women out-save men-only groups
Loans encourage savings. VSLAs become more motivated to save via the mobile service when they know they will have access to credit. In addition, once the credit has been obtained, VSLAs tend to make ​more transactions on their savings account.
Groups comprised of mostly women save more than other mixed groups or those made up of men only. The empowerment of women who manage VSLAs also allows them to gain autonomy and leadership, and therefore allows them to fully participate in their family and community life.
When women are empowered to save, borrow and lead in groups, their world opens up and their lives become richer.



Advans Cote d’Ivoire, WSBI sign MoU to boost savings for smallholder farmers

Advans Cote d’Ivoire, WSBI sign MoU to boost savings for smallholder farmers

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

BRUSSELS, 6 July 2018 - Advans Côte d’Ivoire and WSBI this week signed a memorandum of understanding to tackle financial inclusion in Ivorian organised value chains, with a focus on small-scale cocoa farmers. Falling under WSBI's ​Scale2Save programme supported by the Mastercard Foundation, Advans aims to build on the current branchless banking offer to scale-up  digital-based crop payments for farmers so that traders / cooperatives can pay farmers directly on a savings account.

Advans Côte d’Ivoire’s Chief Executive Officer Gaël Briot said: “Advans aims to serve over 120,000 rural clients at the end of four years. To do this, we want to provide them with the most adapted delivery channels for rural zones – namely mobile banking and agency banking.”

The project also plans to develop a full range of products and services for farmers including micro-insurance, loans and savings accounts. The farmers will also be trained on financial literacy to encourage them to save.

Gaël Briot added: “Having access to financial services will enable these clients to reinforce their incomes, improve their financial security and stability, and give them the capacity and tools to better manage their household finances. This will impact indirectly 720,000 people in rural areas.”

​Ivoirian farmers and financial inclusion

Advans chose to focus on rural clients in Cote d’Ivoire, and cocoa clients especially, because this target market is important to the country’s economic and social development but remains largely unserved by financial service providers. Some 800,000 small-scale cocoa farmers contribute up to 10% of the in Côte d’Ivoire’s gross domestic product. Around 6 million people are indirectly dependent on cocoa revenues.

More than four-fifths (86%) of smallholders own a personal mobile phone, which is an asset on which financial service providers can rely on to develop appropriate delivery channels. Some cooperatives have savings schemes for farmers to encourage them to put money aside rather than borrow, but they keep these savings in cash and take on the risk. They do not necessarily have a clear register of farmers’ withdrawals. Other farmers use traditional banks in the nearest town, but have to travel to get there, or have a mobile wallet with a limited savings amount.

​WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose said: “With this project, Advans aims to tackle past challenges financial services providers have faced in widening financial services take-up by rural people. Innovation will be key in the project so as to shorten customer sign-up delays, better address certain barriers to opening accounts – especially the biometric ID card requirement – as well as capitalising on the potential of mobile banking.”


James Pieper, media relations, WSBI, +32 2 211 1192 or at

Notes to editors:
​Ivoirian small holder farmers and financial access

Ivorian agriculture represents a nearly a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product, employs 68% of labour and represents 40% of export income (CGAP survey). Despite being vital to the economy, 72% of farmers are still below the poverty line and less than 10% have an account at a formal financial institution (CGAP survey).

​Studies have shown that although farmers do not have access to financial services, there is a high interest for all types of services. A recent CGAP survey found that the majority of Ivoirian small holder farmers believe that access to insurance (85%), a bank/current account (82%), a mobile money account (80%), savings account (76%) and loans (63%) are highly important for their households.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), smallholder farms are the backbone of agricultural production in developing countries. IFPRI notes that small, family-run farms are also home to the majority of people living in absolute poverty, and half of the world’s undernourished people. Four-fifths of the developing world’s food is a product of small-sized farms, says the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

About Advans Group

Paris-based Advans Group aims to respond to the need of small businesses and other populations who have ill-adapted, limited or no access to formal financial services. Created in 2005, the group takes strategic focus on rural populations subsidiaries in nine countries in Africa and Asia. Advans’ microfinance institution, Advans Cote d’Ivoire, was created in 2009 and opened in 2012 in Cote d’Ivoire serves 100.000 clients through a network of 19 branches in cities. It has a loan book of €92 million and €50 million in deposits.

About WSBI – The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute

WSBI represents the interests of 6,000 savings and retail banks globally, with total assets of $15 trillion and serving some 1.3 billion customers in nearly 80 countries (as of 2016). WSBI focuses on international regulatory issues that affect the savings and retail banking industry. It supports the aims of the G20 in achieving sustainable, inclusive, and balanced growth, and job creation, whether in industrialised or less developed countries. WSBI favours an inclusive form of globalization that is just and fair, supporting international efforts to advance financial access and financial usage for everyone.