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


Application of CGAP Customer Outcomes Framework in Uganda

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

The case study has applied the CGAP customer outcome indicator framework to test the impact of a new basic savings product positioned in the financial inclusion market and designed to encourage digital and/or remote account opening and transactions.

As a member of the WSBI and part of the Scale2Save program, a prominent retail bank volunteered this product for a case study.

The objective was to assess if the CGAP customer outcome indicator framework could be applied as a measuring tool to determine whether or not:

  • The design, positioning, performance and management of the product are working as intended;
  • The product is indeed improving the lives of target customers;
  • The bank is contributing to Uganda’s Financial Inclusion goals.

The CGAP customer outcomes indicators are generated from supply-side data and can be used internally by providers to measure their levels of customer-centricity. The ultimate objective, however, is for the jurisdiction’s authorities to have a quantifiable, comparable and consistent way to:

  • Detect which strategies, policies, practices, activities, products/services work for or against the customer;
  • Assess the impact of financial services at a market level for all customer segments; and
  • Determine if, and to what extent, providers in the sector are improving or detracting from national goals.

Since the focus of the Uganda case study is Financial Inclusion, focusing on savings, the jurisdiction-specific context was informed by the Bank of Uganda’s (BoU) Financial Inclusion Strategy, 2017. The five main strategic goals classified twenty gaps that the BoU had set out to address. These gaps were therefore used as the basis to map the global CGAP indicators to Uganda’s context.

Download the case study here

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Scale2Save


Digital Financial Inclusion in Nigeria and Uganda: opportunities and remaining challenges

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Earlier this year, the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WBSI) programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, through the support of the Mastercard Foundation, hosted in-person knowledge exchange
events in Nigeria and Uganda. The workshops were attended by practitioners and experts from the financial sector, research institutions, civil society, and the media. Across the two events there were many
interesting discussions, however, the potential and challenges around digital financial inclusion (DFI) was a recurring theme across the two events. In this note we summarize key challenges and opportunities
for digital financial inclusion discussed during the two events as well as examples from Scale2Save partners and publications.

Authors: Amy Oyekunle and Daniel Joloba

This note was prepared by the Mastercard Foundation Savings Learning Lab, a six-year initiative
implemented by Itad to support learning among the Foundation’s savings sector portfolio programmes:
Scale2Save and Savings at the Frontier

DFI means providing digital access to formal financial services to excluded and underserved populations. Digital technology has played a significant role in changing the sector and advancing financial inclusion in recent years. This was particularly true during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw an increased uptake of cashless services and clients using e-banking services, including mobile banking, Point-of-sales (PoS) transactions, and card payments. The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) estimates the volume of ATM transactions has grown exponentially in the last six years, more than doubling since 2015 to over 850M in 20191 and USD 340,314 mobile payments per day in Uganda by 20212 Additionally, data from Bank of Uganda (BoU)3 indicates that the number of active debit cards increased by 12.4% from 2.59m in March 2021 to 2.91m in March 2022 while debit card transaction volumes increased by 28.01% from 4.4 million transactions in March 2021 to 5.68 million in March 2022. Credit card transaction volumes increased by 62% from 142,350 to 230,910 transactions over the same period. However, there is an indication that digital transactions are declining and returning to pre-Pandemic levels and there are still challenges that need to be overcome if digital is to deliver on its transformational potential. Challenges such as the limited interoperability for card payments as well as cyber security threats still hamper the wider use of the digital platform

What are those challenges, and why do they matter
Digital platforms can expand access to financial services, but they also exclude. Access to financial services, particularly digital financial services is highly gendered and fraught with inequalities Usage of digital accounts remains low: there has been a steady increase in digital accounts being opened
– 45.3 million bank accounts were opened in Nigeria in January 20226

Infrastructure for digital transactions can be a barrier to access DFS: connectivity, electricity and
infrastructure required for digital financial inclusion are not always present or reliable in rural areas

Regulations have improved but are still a barrier to many potential customers: Even though the Central
Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has simplified the Know-your-client (KYC) regulations required for clients to open
accounts through the three-tier system of using the Bank Verification Number and National IdentificationNumber (NIN), FSPs say this is still a challenge.

Risks associated with digital transactions are high: Increased cases of accidental transactions and
security breaches associated with telcos and mobile apps are a deterrent to customers, diminishing trust
in an already fragile ecosystem.

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Scale2Save


Remote coaching to prevent dormancy among low-income savers

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Research findings from Uganda

This research was conducted by Scott Graham, Anahit Tevosyan and Nathaniel Mayende at FINCA International, together with Ester Agasha from the Makerere University Business School, Dr. Joeri Smits and Sally Yacoub. We wish to thank FINCA International and FINCA Uganda for their support throughout this project, especially James Onyutta, Ciprian Panturu, Alice Lubwama, Scovia Swabrah and Justine Nabawanuka. We are also grateful to the Scale2Save team, in particular Weselina Angelow, Anton Simanowitz, and Apphia Ndungu for their many contributions to this work, and to our partner, the Mastercard Foundation, whose sponsorship made it possible

One of the challenges of providing savings services to the unbanked is that many new customers fail to use the account beyond the initial deposit, a problem known as dormancy.

In our study, a low-cost coaching intervention produced significantly higher levels of account activity and use of banking agents, with stronger effects on women. The pattern of account usage reflects the role that formal savings plays in helping customers satisfy short- and medium-term cash needs. In qualitative interviews, women explained that coaching fostered a greater sense of trust and relationship with the bank, and that it encouraged them to set aside even small sums as a form of protection against an uncertain future.

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Scale2Save


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

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Scale2Save


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

Scale2Save


WSBI member and Scale2Save partner Centenary Bank launches paperless account opening technology

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

WSBI member and Scale2Save partner Centenary Bank launches paperless account opening technology.
Digital-based CenteXpress savings account extends financial services to millions of unbanked Ugandans through social networks to increase financial inclusion.

Scale2Save project update in Uganda

​​​​​​​​​​​WSBI member and Scale2Save partner Centenary Bank launches paperless account opening technology.

Digital-based CenteXpress savings account extends financial services to millions of unbanked Ugandans through social networks to increase financial inclusion.

BRUSSELS, 23 June 2020 – Scale2Save project partner Centenary Bank, the largest Commercial Microfinance Bank in Uganda, launched recently a paperless bank account opening service – dubbed CenteXpress – intended to serve the unbanked Ugandan population during Covid​-19 and beyond.

Launched at the head office in Kampala, CenteXpress comes as Uganda faces the Covid-19 pandemic. Deploying and using appropriate solutions like a CenteXpress account puts people in the right direction to propel personal savings and business continuity. The CenteXpress account will build on initiatives already in place by the bank to extend financial services to people at all levels.

Commenting on the launch, Centenary Bank, Managing Director Fabian Kasi said, “It comes at a time when all sectors of the economy including banking and financial services are undergoing a new wave of change, which has warranted further investment in digitally driven solutions to our current gaps and challenges as a country.”

“According to the 2018 Financial Sector Deepening Uganda report on Banking the number of Ugandans without bank accounts or some form of structured and legal financial services currently stands at 89% or 16.5 million of the 18.6 million adult population of Uganda, an indication that there’s need to continuously develop banking services that meet customer’s needs across all age groups.”

How it works: Providing a digital account…instantly

The rising demand for the banking industry to adopt solutions that offer suitable banking experiences anytime and anywhere has inspired the integration of technology to respond with appropriate solutions. Centenary Bank does this through CenteXpress by issuing an instant bank account opened for people by any one of its customers. The offer aims to extend banking services to a customer’s family, friends, relatives, colleagues, and acquaintances, among others that are unbanked and yet need to use banking services. Again, it gives an opportunity to employ people to open accounts for others while earning a commission on each account.

Beatrice Lugalambi, General Manager Corporate Communications and Marketing, said: “A potential customer does not need to visit a bank branch to get a CenteXpress account opened for them, because any existing customer can open the account for anyone in short simple steps and in less than five minutes. No paper work is required during the account opening process for CenteXpress.”  This mobile savings account is intended to build the momentum of savings among our people especially now that Covid-19 has challenged us with the need to survive such challenges.

“For the existing customer to open a CenteXpress for another person, all they need to do is confirm that the person’s phone number is registered. The digital link then uses the CenteMobile App to capture all the necessary new customer information on the digital form provided, takes a photo of their National ID, then enters the phone number and address of the new customer. The Digital Link then deposits the minimum opening balance of Ushs.3,000 on the new account while the bank system credits the Digital Link’s account with Ushs.2,000 as commission for opening the account. The new client will receive SMS notifications with new pin and account details to confirm completion of the process and activation of the account.”

The account presents access to numerous benefits and banking services including, 24/7 access to one’s account using CenteMobile, Free balance inquiry, Withdrawals of up to 2 million shilling per day from all the bank’s digitally driven channels including CenteMobile, CenteAgent and the account is purely phone based.

Scale2Save and Centenary Bank

WSBI and Centenary Bank signed in late 2019 a memorandum of understanding for a new Scale2Save project to help small-scale savings work in Uganda. Signed during a ceremony on 18 October in Washington, D.C., the memorandum outlined two projects, on being CenteXpress, introduces financial incentives for existing customers to on-board new ones into the no-frills account. The project taps into and measures the influence and impact made by friends and family to boost uptake and active use of banks and their services within the retail and mass market. A related project also contained in the memorandum was to introduce and test a ‘No-Frills’ basic mobile-phone-operated savings account specifically designed for the low-income people. Centenary looks to launch and test the offer via CenteMobile – the bank’s digital channel.

Centenary Bank Managing Director Fabian Kasi said at the time of the memorandum signing that: “The mobile account will be scaled up to 187,500 customers by its Cente banking agent network, sales representatives and staff during the pilot phase.”

The no-frills account pilot aims in the medium- to long-term to establish a “gateway-to-banking” product for low-income Ugandans. People who start with the account, set for a pilot phase in Central and Western regions of the country, can graduate to a regular savings account. From there, they can eventually gain access to the full suite of banking products, including credit. The project is especially important for rural communities to flourish.

Commenting at the time on the initiative and support from WSBI under the Scale2Save programme, MoU signatory and WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose added: “Centenary Bank is taking an innovative, multi-pronged approach to address the need for viable small-scale savings. They also look to test shared agency infrastructure with Finca Uganda, another Scale2Save partner.”

About Centenary Bank

Centenary Bank is Uganda’s leading commercial microfinance bank, serving more than 1.8 million consumers, a quarter of the country’s total banking population. It also has a growing network of 186 ATMs, 74 branches, and over 400 Cente Agents across the country. Centenary Bank started in 1985 with two main purposes: serve the rural poor and make a meaningful contribution to the socio-economic development of Uganda. In 1993, it transitioned to Centenary Rural Development Bank Limited and licensed as a full-service commercial bank. The bank aims to be Uganda’s best provider of financial services, especially microfinance. Centenary Bank began in 1983 as a credit trust of the Uganda National Lay Apostolate. Its mission is “To provide appropriate financial services, especially microfinance to all people, in a sustainable manner and in accordance with the law.”​

​​

Scale2Save


Centenary Bank in Uganda signs on to Scale2Save

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Will launch ‘no-frills’ account in Uganda. - Two-pronged project will also tap into family & friends to boost take up, account use
WSBI and Centenary Bank signed recently a memorandum of understanding for a new Scale2Save project to help small-scale savings work in Uganda.

Signed during a ceremony on 18 October in Washington, D.C., the memorandum outlines projects to introduce and test in Uganda a ‘No-Frills’ basic mobile-phone-operated savings account specifically designed for the low-income people. Centenary looks to launch and test the offer via CenteMobile – the bank’s digital channel.

Centenary Bank Managing Director Fabian Kasi (pictured above, at left), who signed the memorandum, noted: “The mobile account will be scaled up to 187,500 customers by its Cente banking agent network, sales representatives and staff during the pilot phase”.

The no-frills account pilot aims in the medium- to long-term to establish a “gateway-to-banking” product for low-income Ugandans. People who start with the account, set for a pilot phase in Central and Western regions of the country, can graduate to a regular savings account. From there, they can eventually gain access to the full suite of banking products, including credit. The project is especially important for rural communities to flourish.

The second innovation will introduce financial incentives for existing customers to on-board new ones into the no-frills account. The project taps into and measures the influence and impact made by friends and family to boost uptake and active use of banks and their services within the retail and mass market. A new bank account will be instantly generated at branch and agent level. It then debits the introducer’s account and credits the newly introduced account holder with the equivalent amount.

Commenting on the initiative and support from WSBI under the Scale2Save programme, MoU signatory and WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose added: “Centenary Bank is taking an innovative, multi-pronged approach to address the need for viable small-scale savings. They also look to test shared agency infrastructure with Finca Uganda, another Scale2Save partner.”

About Centenary Bank

Centenary Bank is Uganda’s leading commercial microfinance bank, serving more than 1.4 million consumers, employing over 2,700 staff and holding an asset base of UGX 2.706.3 Billion (US$733 million)as of 31 December 2017. It also has a growing network of 176 ATMs, 70 branches, and over 400 Cente Agents across the country. Centenary Bank started in 1985 with two main purposes: serve the rural poor and make a meaningful contribution to the socio-economic development of Uganda. In 1993, it transitioned to Centenary Rural Development Bank Limited and licensed as a full-service commercial bank. The bank aims to be Uganda’s best provider of financial services, especially microfinance. Centenary Bank began in 1983 as a credit trust of the Uganda National Lay Apostolate.

Scale2Save


WSBI, BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd join forces

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

To digitise low-balance savings through Scale2Save. Project to help low-income earners in rural, remote areas, on boarding 164,000 people

WSBI, BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd join forces. ​To digitise low-balance savings through Scale2Save.
Project to help low-income earners in rural, remote areas, on boarding 164,000 people

WSBI and BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd (BUBL) look to widen financial inclusion in Uganda by digitising low-balance savings accounts.

Outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed recently by both organisations under WSBI’s Scale2Save programme – a partnership between WSBI and Mastercard Foundation to help establish the viability of small-balance savings accounts – BUBL looks to develop a Wise Save savings product. The Scale2Save-supported project will provide accounts to approximately 164,000 people at the bottom of the pyramid, especially women earning low incomes, in rural and remote areas.

The Managing Director of BRAC Uganda Bank, Jimmy Adiga said: “Evolving in early 2019 from a microfinance institution to a Tier II bank, BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd now positions itself to not only provide greater value to the hundreds of thousands of clients already served, but also to achieve greater financial inclusion in Uganda. The new banking license now enables us to offer Ugandans; savings accounts, money transfer services, deposit-linked insurance and other financial services besides credit products.”

The newly established bank will aim to support low income earners and micro depositors that have been financially excluded from the formal banking system, to gain further access to finance. This will be achieved through implementing easier means to transact, simplified financial literacy and digital education, end-to-end digitisation of the Wise Save savings product and its channels, right from initial on boarding to transacting. On top of a vast branch network consisting of 32 branches and 131 satellite offices spread across Uganda, the bank plans to deploy roving agency banking services, offering banking services within the community. Similar to “susu” collections in West Africa, the offer comes at no extra cost to customers. They also plan to offer their Wise Save account bundled with micro deposit insurance cover for every account holder.

The bank will also work with the research team from its sister organisation, BRAC International to test ultra-poor graduation – particularly in trying to disprove existing theory that the ultra-poor cannot possibly be motivated to save.

WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose concluded: “BRAC Uganda Bank sees a huge upside to digitise the Wise Save account. By doing so, the low-income segment can access a savings product tied to a mobile wallet for greater convenience when accessing financial services. That means harnessing new technology while configuring BUBL’s agency banking and mobile banking platforms.”

Contact:

Afema Robert, communications, BUBL, +256-772120305, afema.robert@brac.net

Notes to editor:

About BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd (BUBL)

BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd launched on 25 April 2019 and attained its current status of a Tier II Credit institution following a successful background as the leading Microfinance services provider in Uganda. The Bank operates 32 regulated branches and 131 satellite offices covering 84 districts in Uganda targeting Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs. BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd promotes financial inclusion by extending financial services to unserved and underserved populations, especially women and youth as well as people living in poverty in rural areas. The Bank is operationally and financially self-sustaining with over 220,000 active customers and a loan book in excess of Uganda shillings 178 billion.

About WSBI

The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) represents the interests of 6,760 savings and retail banks globally, with total assets of $16 trillion and serving some 1.7 billion customers in nearly 80 countries (as of 2018). Founded in 1924, the institute focuses on international regulatory issues that affect the savings and retail banking industry. WSBI supports the achievement of sustainable, inclusive, balanced growth and job creation, whether in industrialised or less developed countries. Learn more at www.wsbi-esbg.org.

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion for people living in poverty. One of the largest foundations in the world, it works almost exclusively in Africa. It was created in 2006 by Mastercard International and operates independently under the governance of its own Board of Directors. The Foundation has offices in Toronto, Canada and in Kigali, Rwanda. Visit www.mastercardfdn.org for more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter. Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter

Scale2Save


New: Scale2Save partnership launched with FINCA International

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

-Both WSBI, FINCA International sign memorandum of understanding

​- Focuses on savings product research in Uganda

- Qualitative, quantitative research explores savings product impact on usage

The development of M-KOBA

Tanzania Commercial Bank Plc (TCB) previously called TPB Bank Plc has always championed financial inclusion by providing services and products to serve the population at the bottom of the pyramid.

TBD conducted a three-year project (2018-2020) with USD 1 million provided by the Mastercard Foundation for the Savings at the Frontier (SatF) programme (Digitizing Informal Saving Mechanisms) and overseen by Oxford Policy Management (OPM). The goal was to bring on board 250,000 customers by 2020 of whom 20,000 would be purely rural. TCB launched the project in 15 locations, all in rural areas. The project led to the development of a pure digital group saving product called M-KOBA.

Launched in January 2019, M-KOBA is a mobile based product meant to facilitate group saving and provides solutions to five challenges that many formal and informal savings groups in Tanzania currently face. These are the challenges and the way M-KOBA addressed them:

  1. Security: Banking through this mobile account, the security of funds of customers is high, compared to the traditional saving mechanisms they normally use.
  2. Transparency: The whole process starting from customer registration to fund transfer (depositing) is transparent in the sense that all group members are involved.
  3. Convenience: The M-KOBA product is very easy for customers to understand and use. With M-Koba, individual members can contribute, apply for a loan and vote through their mobile phones, without physically convening in one place.
  4. Cost effectiveness: All customers transactions via M-KOBA are free of charge except for balance checks which are available for a small fee.
  5. Accessibility: M-KOBA is accessible anytime and anywhere, through the customer’s mobile phone.

Taking it further

To extend the project further, in October 2020, TCB entered into a partnership with Plan International Tanzania (Plan).

Plan is a child centered organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan has been working in five thematic areas: Child protection, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health and Nutrition (MNCH&N), Equal access to basic education, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Youth Economic Empowerment (YEE).

Plan’s YEE programs have been supporting vulnerable youth, especially young women and their families to improve livelihoods. This through provision of market relevant skills, support formation of Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) and by facilitating linkage to private sector economic opportunities. VSLAs are informal, have simple record keeping, and members have full ownership and control. This methodology enables VSLAs to provide basic financial services to people in remote areas that lack infrastructure. The group members are 80% women and their main economic activity is agriculture. However, VSLAs face some limitations in offering financial services to its members, including:

  1. The safety of the money is not guaranteed, as VSLA save their money in metal boxes at home.
  2. At the initial parts of a cycle, the group has little money, which makes it difficult to meet its members’ credit needs.
  3. At times, when the loan demand is low, the group has excess liquidity and would rather save these excess funds in a bank account, where the money is safe and can earn some interest instead of lying idle.
  4. Since the loans from the group are based on member’s savings, the group is unable to provide larger loans. Also, the tenure of the loans is short, which is not appropriate for investing in income generating activities which have a longer pay-back period.

In order to address these limitations faced by the VSLAs, Plan and TCB entered into a partnership, whereby TCB would provide 2 products:

  1. M-KOBA, a digital form of saving money, accessing loans and sharing earnings to VSLA members. M-KOBA provides security of the VSLAs’ money, increase transparency and simplicity for members to contribute through mobile agency banking M-Pesa. M-KOBA digitalizes the VSLA processes and increases safety by using bank or M-Pesa savings accounts.
  2. Group savings products and potentially/eventually other bank products and services to the VSLAs formed i.e. Group loans and Group Life insurance.

Photos: ​Between August and October 2021 in Isanzu, Nyang’ingi, Sangabuye and Laela villages, saving group representatives met with TCB and Plan team to be trained on how to use M-KOBA, group loans application processes and life insurance.

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