What a journey it has been!

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

By Weselina Angelow

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.

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.

 

Research

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.

Scale2Save


Young people matter: A case study from Postbank in Kenya

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Scale2Save partner drives financial literacy to impart entrepreneurial skills. ​
BRUSSELS, 12 August 2020 —​ David Rutere needed help as he navigated how to pay for a double-major in mathematics and economics from The University of Nairobi. “I faced financial constraints that greatly hindered realising my educational and investment goals. Although I was on campus, I struggled to pay for my fees and meet daily needs."

In 2016, he attended one of the financial literacy sessions on campus organised by Postbank, a Scale2Save partner and government-owned postal savings bank primarily engaged in the mobilisation of savings for national development. ​​

“The PostBank-led sessions equipped me with life skills,” he said, “and inculcated a saving culture within me. Many will say that savings without a source of revenue is impossible, however, I think that savings from miscellaneous expenses is possible to do and wonderful to achieve. Through the programme, I learned how to save, budget, set financial goals and how to invest.”

The lessons learned paid off for David. In 2016, he opened a savings account and signed a three-year saving contract, where he committed to save KSh150 (US$ .50) a day. He saved 150 shillings every day consistently for three years and on maturity of the funds in 2019 he amassed in hand to invest KSh180,000, roughly equal to US$1,800.

“Immediately, I invested in horticultural farming where I began back in my rural home in Embu by constructing a greenhouse worth KSh200,000. A short while later, I started farming capsicum, a common type of pepper,” he added.

Rutere views the venture as a way to realise food security in the country, thereby contributing to the UN sustainable development goals, namely SDG1 on eradicating poverty as well as SDG2 on ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture. Similarly, his efforts also contribute to the “big four” agenda of the Kenyan government on improving livelihoods by ensuring food security in the country.

He shared: “I am now a proud, self-employed student because of my simple savings. I have a monthly income of KSh40,000 ($USD400) that enables me to fully pay for my school fees at the university and cater to my daily upkeep.”

Why Kenyan youth matter

According to the 2019 Kenya national census, three-fourths of its 47.6 million population are children and youth, with youth aged 18 to 34 years of age making up 29% of Kenya’s populace. The youth age bracket offers a huge potential to be a force to build a positive economic future for the country, both collectively and as individual agents of progress and change. With youth unemployment in Kenya standing at a staggering 22 per cent according to 2018 ILO estimates, there is need to constantly equip youth with entrepreneurship and life skills to help them navigate through this challenge.

Postbank Kenya, financial literacy, and youth

Postbank Kenya has been on the forefront in running financial literacy programmes for both in-school and out-of-school youth. Students in universities and colleges become empowered through sessions on financial literacy, entrepreneurship skills and enhancing soft skills in the workplace. For those out of school, the programme equips youth with entrepreneurial skills to start and run small businesses in line with their interests and passions. Since the onset of these initiatives, youths have been able to set financial goals and work towards them. There has also been an attitude change in youth entering the job market and informal sector. Most of the youths involved in the PostkBank effort have been able to set up small businesses ranging from agri-business and online stores to boda boda operations, which provide bicycle and motorcycle taxis commonly found in East Africa. Similarly, the savings habits of the youth that have been involved in the programme have proven encouraging.

Postbank Kenya continues to visit sectors where youth are employed to impart financial literacy. A case in point is Kitui County, east of capital Nairobi, where youth like David Rutere have now started saving for their financial goals after such training.

Paying it forward

David advises youth on the need to gain entrepreneurship skills: “There was a time when all you needed to succeed was the ability to read and write English, and thereafter, a university degree, followed by a masters and Ph.D. That has now changed, however, as we are now in the era of skills and what matters is the skill set especially needed in the digital era.”

On savings, David views saving at personal level as an obligation, not a privilege, of every responsible citizen with a clearly articulated vision and desire to invest.

“Set realistic goals and maximize the opportunities presented. Soon enough, you’ll have a successful story to tell. Let’s realign our priorities and discipline ourselves to savings that will help us realise our dreams.” ​

Scale2Save, partners celebrate International Youth Day
International Youth Day on 12 August presents an opportunity for Scale2Save partners like PostBank in Kenya to showcase their stories. That includes how partners serve and empower youth and young people through their projects. Project partner share stories from real people who benefit from their efforts to raise awareness around the need to mobilise savings among – and strengthen the resilience of – low-income populations, which includes financially excluded youth and young people.

The campaign matters because interest exists within governments, NGOs and international bodies to learn more about how financial institutions address the needs of youth, young people and young adults. For example, financial inclusion features in eight of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. This year’s International Youth Day theme, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, seeks to highlight ways in which engagement of young people at local, national and global levels enriches national and multilateral institutions and processes, the UN says. It also draws lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be boosted.

Scale2Save


Kenya member, WSBI sign MoU

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

​​​​​​​​​​​Innovative ‘Bank in A Bag’ project to improve bank reach, add 5000 savings groups, some 67,000 customers​

​​​​​​​​​​​Innovative ‘Bank in A Bag’ project to improve bank reach, add 5000 savings groups, some 67,000 customers​

BRUSSELS, 5 December 2017 – Momentum continues under WSBI’s Scale2Save programme as Kenya Post Office Savings Bank and WSBI signed today a Memorandum of Understanding for the innovation-driven postal savings bank to drive greater financial inclusion.

The Nairobi-based institution, also known as Postbank will take part in the Mastercard Foundation-supported program by launching a “Bank in A Bag” concept and deploying staff with it to where customers – both individuals and savings groups – meet. The Bank in A Bag contains needed record-keeping materials and ICT equipment such as a point-of-sale (POS) terminal, laptop computer, an Android tablet and a router. The equipment will enable end-to-end processing of account opening for individual customers in remote locations outside a traditional brick-and-mortar branch.

Anne W. Karanja, Managing Director, said: “Bank in A Bag lifts some of the barriers to access and usage of banking services in rural Kenya, especially distance and cost. Financial education will also play a big part in the work by WSBI and KPOSB, enabling the bank to execute a strategy to acquire, activate and retain savers.”

With the support of WSBI, Postbank will build on the newly developed and its already-piloted Mchama product, a mobile savings and payments service for village groups to deepen the reach, scale and sustainability of low balance accounts as well as address dormancy of accounts. They will continue to train 400 Postbank agents and continuous group financial literacy training programs. They will also continue to expand their pool of Community-Based Trainers, sales ambassadors who will support the recruitment and training of village groups.

A research component will round out the project, with the bank looking to better understand group savings and transactional behavior when using Mchama. WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose said: “It’s the second memorandum signed in the last two months by WSBI and partner banks in Africa to demonstrate the business case of small-scale savings. We look to assist Postbank in their aim to onboard 5,000 groups and 66,744 new accounts active by the project end date in 2020.”

Pilot preparation on the Bank in A Bag project starts this month with a scheduled January 2018 implementation start date.

About Kenya Post Office Savings Bank

The Kenya Post Office Savings Bank (Postbank) is primarily engaged in the mobilization of savings for national development. Postbank is committed to creating business growth while ensuring that delivery of services is done in an ethical and socially responsible manner. The bank considers the interests of the community and strives to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct and corporate responsibility in service delivery. Corporate Social Responsibility is fundamental to its culture and core values, with focus placed on environment, health, financial Literacy and education. Wholly owned by the Government of Kenya and reports to the Ministry of Finance, Postbank is committed to the standards of corporate governance as set by the government and the Central Bank of Kenya for the public sector.

Scale2Save


African farmer in field with laptop

Kenya member, WSBI sign MoU

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

BRUSSELS, 5 December 2017 – Momentum continues under WSBI's Scale2Save programme as Kenya Post Office Savings Bank and WSBI signed today a Memorandum of Understanding for the innovation-driven postal savings bank to drive greater financial inclusion.

The Nairobi-based institution, also known as Postbank will take part in the Mastercard Foundation-supported program by launching a “Bank in A Bag” concept and deploying staff with it to where customers – both individuals and savings groups – meet. The Bank in A Bag contains needed record-keeping materials and ICT equipment such as a point-of-sale (POS) terminal, laptop computer, an Android tablet and a router. The equipment will enable end-to-end processing of account opening for individual customers in remote locations outside a traditional brick-and-mortar branch.

Anne W. Karanja, Managing Director, said: “Bank in A Bag lifts some of the barriers to access and usage of banking services in rural Kenya, especially distance and cost. Financial education will also play a big part in the work by WSBI and KPOSB, enabling the bank to execute a strategy to acquire, activate and retain savers.”

With the support of WSBI, Postbank will build on the newly developed and its already-piloted Mchama product, a mobile savings and payments service for village groups to deepen the reach, scale and sustainability of low balance accounts as well as address dormancy of accounts. They will continue to train 400 Postbank agents and continuous group financial literacy training programs. They will also continue to expand their pool of Community-Based Trainers, sales ambassadors who will support the recruitment and training of village groups.

A research component will round out the project, with the bank looking to better understand group savings and transactional behavior when using Mchama.

WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose said: “It’s the second memorandum signed in the last two months by WSBI and partner banks in Africa to demonstrate the business case of small-scale savings. We look to assist Postbank in their aim to onboard 5,000 groups and 66,744 new accounts active by the project end date in 2020.”

Pilot preparation on the Bank in A Bag project starts this month with a scheduled January 2018 implementation start date.

​Notes to editors:
​About Kenya Post Office Savings Bank

The Kenya Post Office Savings Bank (Postbank) is primarily engaged in the mobilization of savings for national development. Postbank is committed to creating business growth while ensuring that delivery of services is done in an ethical and socially responsible manner. The bank considers the interests of the community and strives to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct and corporate responsibility in service delivery. Corporate Social Responsibility is fundamental to its culture and core values, with focus placed on environment, health, financial Literacy and education. Wholly owned by the Government of Kenya and reports to the Ministry of Finance, Postbank is committed to the standards of corporate governance as set by the government and the Central Bank of Kenya for the public sector. Learn more

About the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute

WSBI represents the interests of 6,000 savings and retail banks globally, with total assets of $14tn and serving one billion customers in nearly 80 countries (as of 2014). 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.

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