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.

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How Can Small Scale Savings Be Offered Sustainably?

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Only 55 percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 53 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, have an account at a financial institution. Usage rates to make digital payments, as well as to save and borrow are even lower in these regions

How Can Small Scale Savings Be Offered Sustainably?

Learnings from the Scale2Save Program on successful business and institutional models
Vegetable market in Nigeria. CGAP Photo via Communication for Development Ltd.

Only 55 percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 53 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, have an account at a financial institution. Usage rates to make digital payments, as well as to save and borrow are even lower in these regions. Few formal financial service providers (FSPs) in Africa offer attractive small scale savings products because the market potential of low-income segments to save is poorly understood. Twitter logo Plus, low usage represents a real drain on bank costs, making FSPs wary of reaching out to this market.

But can small scale savings be offered sustainably? And if so, how? That is what we wanted to find out at Scale2Save, a partnership between WSBI and the Mastercard Foundation which aimed to establish the viability of low–balance savings accounts. From 2016 to 2022, we worked with 12 FSPs in six African countries to test different innovative business models. After six years of implementation, we have a number of lessons learned that we would like to share – in particular around the key drivers we identified for viable business models and the institutional factors that affect an FSP’s ability to offer low-balance savings products.

Developing a viable business model

While there is no “one size fits all” business model, our work with FSPs in Africa helped us identify three business model characteristics that are key for making small scale savings sustainable. Twitter logo These business model drivers address the following three issues:

  1. Demand: How to create a savings product that sells well.
  2. Cost and accessibility: How to make the savings product accessible for low-income clients as well as affordable for the FSP.
  3. Marketing: How to promote savings products efficiently to the low-income segment.

Demand: In exploring how to drive demand, we found that FSPs need to undertake in-depth client research to get to know their clients and identify their underlying needs to develop a product that motivates savers to sign up. For example, farmers need savings to buy inputs to increase their yield, respond to family emergencies, pay for health care because they are not insured and send their children to school.

According to a study of Advans Microfinance Bank in Ivory Coast, 40 percent of cocoa producers have to send their children to school two months later on average because they do not have the funds to pay the school fees at the beginning of the year. Based on that research, Advans now provides smallholder cocoa farmers with savings accounts and education loans to help its customers overcome cashflow challenges between harvests, enabling families to send their children to school following the school calendar and not the harvest season. This bundled product was developed using client insights and prototyping, with focus groups and studies first assessing client priorities and needs, and then constant testing of products with the target clients during the pilot phase.

Cost and accessibility: To be affordable and accessible for the low-income market, savings products should be free or very low-cost, and should take advantage of digitization, agent banking and doorstep services to reach more customers. But these services are not free, so how can an FSP offer them without sending costs through the roof? Without a doubt, the most successful strategy we saw was through partnerships. Centenary Bank in Uganda, for example, shares its agent network with a competitor, FINCA Uganda, increasing agents profits and reducing the bank’s costs. In Ivory Coast, Advans partners with smallholder farmer cooperatives to play the role of third-party agent network, a very successful strategy to mobilize small scale savings with this target customer.

Marketing: All of the business models we looked at needed to reach a certain scale, generally around 100,000 customers, in order to make a profit and become sustainable. Onboarding new customers quickly, and with a positive first customer experience to keep them using the product, is therefore key for sustainability. Transparency and financial education were among the most successful strategies for making this happen. In terms of transparency, LAPO in Nigeria found that customers liked physical cashbooks and SMS transaction confirmation as evidence of their savings rather than relying on the fully digitized system. In addition, multiple financial education trainings through branch and roving staff were necessary for rural mothers to really understand the insurance product features and potential benefits for their family and then start using the product.

Key institutional characteristics

Besides having a viable business model, there are also certain institutional factors that help ensure an FSP can offer small scale savings sustainably. Upon evaluating the Scale2Save program as it came to an end earlier this year, we compiled the following set of institutional conditions that affected FSPs’ ability to successfully serve low-income segments.

  • A wide reach and a strong brand presence are necessary to build the scale required to reach sustainability. Centenary Bank Uganda, for example, not only has a widespread network of 5,800 agents, but also has a well-established brand in the local community thanks to its partnership with the Catholic church.
  • A social mandate and leadership with a pro-poor vision help to ensure the FSP’s commitment to the low-income market. For example, Kenya Post Office Savings Bank’s primary mission is to provide accessible financial services to all segments in the market regardless of their income status.
  • A flat organizational structure expedites decision-making, which is a critical factor in reaching a new target market with a new product.
  • A dedicated department or a senior-level product champion helps to drive efforts within the business towards successfully developing, offering and selling the product. At Advans, the integration of the project team into the Commercial Department and Business Development Department sent a strong signal to staff that these activities were becoming core activities.
  • Willingness to undergo a change management process to transform the institutional culture. The culture of credit-led institutions can negatively affect how customers perceive the FSP’s savings products, as well as the mindset of staff and how they behave in offering savings. Accompaniment through a change management process, aimed at training bank staff on transitioning from a credit-only FSP to a deposit-taking and credit-offering one, has shown positive results.
  • Established digital systems. FSPs which do not have digital solutions already in place will need to go through a digital transformation first in order to offer small scale savings sustainably.

Where do we go from here?

As the Scale2Save program ends, we are encouraged by the learnings we’ve gathered, which show us that it is indeed possible to offer small scale savings sustainably. But there is still much more work to be done. Twitter logo

FSPs need to make concerted efforts to identify savers’ needs through customer research, and to incorporate data-driven decision-making into the product development process. On an ongoing basis, they must focus on customer activity, not just acquisition, to address the common challenge of inactivity and ensure new services’ sustainability. Donors also still have a role to play in driving small scale savings, as the challenges involved in developing a viable business case for low-income segments in Africa mean that FSPs often require an external push to get started.

The financial inclusion sector needs to come together in recognition of the importance of savings. If we each do our part, we can help advance small scale savings so that all customers, regardless of income, have access to a savings account that meets their needs. Twitter logo

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End Term Evaluation of the Scale2Save Programme

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Abridged report July 2022

End Term Evaluation of the Scale2Save Programme

Scale2Save Programme created a lasting Legacy:
1.3 million more low-income women, farmers and youth are financially included on the African continent

1.3

MILLION

The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) and the Mastercard Foundation engaged Genesis
Analytics to conduct the end-term evaluation of the Scale2Save programme

The purpose of the evaluation was to provide lessons learnt against key learning questions of the programme related to the supply-side.:

  • How does the institutional model affect the ability to offer low balance savings accounts (LBSAs)?
  • What impact has the programme had on partner Financial Service Providers (FSPs)?
  • How has the Scale2Save programme contributed to the ecosystem?
  • What has been the value of partnerships in the delivery of LBSAs under the Scale2Save programme?
  • What is the combination of supply-side and demand-side drivers that emerge for LBSAs?
  • What factors impeded the ability of partner FSPs in the provision of LBSAs during the Scale2Save programme?
  • What factors influence the sustainability of LBSAs developed under the Scale2Save programme
  • Learnings from the evaluation will be used to inform future efforts of increasing demand and supply for low balance savings accounts and for broader ecosystem learning.


The programme
helped FSPs to
overcome obstacles
that would have
been prohibitive
without the
Scale2Save
team’s constant
support.

Download the Abridged Report

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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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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

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WSBI shares conclusions of its 6-year programme on financial inclusion

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

The Scale2Save programme, a WSBI partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, achieved its goal of banking over 1 million people in African countries through 8 innovative projects with local partners. The programme also made important contributions to finding sustainable business models to serve the mass market of low-income people. This is the most recent of a series of initiatives by WSBI to build financial inclusion and resilience for people in vulnerable situations.

Paris, 6 July 2022 – The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI)’s programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, held today a closing knowledge sharing event in Paris with focus on the achievements of a six-year partnership with the Mastercard Foundation: over 1 million people banked in Africa and a substantial contribution to the understanding of products and services that can boost financial inclusion.

Scale2Save, soon to come to an end, worked with local banks and microfinance institutions in Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal and Uganda. It implemented eight innovative projects to reach out to the lowest income people. As projects are implemented, Scale2Save also contributes to building knowledge about the key elements of sustainable business models to serve this segment of customers, often underserved or completely excluded from formal financial services.

“Scale2Save theme is ‘Microsavings for Maximum Impact’ because we aim at enabling our partners to find financial solutions that work, and that can be scaled-up to allow low-income people to actively save”, said WSBI Managing Director, Peter Simon, during the event attended by participants from financial inclusion stakeholders from Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe.

Scale2Save goes beyond banking people towards adding value to the lives of these new customers by finding ways of keeping them engaged and making full use of their financial services and products, to address the common issue among low-income people of not using the accounts offered to them on a regular basis.

The keys to success found though the eight projects include a customer-centric approaches, digitalisation, financial education and literacy, and the use of roving agents and sharing agency infrastructure.

Scale2Save projects are focused on three long time financially excluded groups: women, to close the gender gap as they are more than half of the financially excluded worldwide; youth, because they increasingly make significant contributions to their households; and farmers, as they constitute an important part of many African economies and formal financial services.

Scale2Save current partners are:  Advans Microfinance in Cote d’Ivoire; PostBank in Kenya; Al Barid and Barid Cash in Morocco; LAPO Microfinance and First City Monument Bank (FCMB) in Nigeria; and FINCA Uganda, Centenary Bank, BRAC Bank Limited in Uganda.

“I am absolutely positive that that the Scale2Save partners as well as WSBI and its members are committed to continue their efforts to contribute closing the remaining access gaps”, said Programme Director, Weselina Angelow.

Scale2Save is a six-year partnership with the Mastercard Foundation. It is the most recent in a series of initiatives by WSBI to mobilize its global network of over 7,000 savings and retails banks in favour of financial inclusion. WSBI sees financial inclusion as an enabler to achieve the UN Agenda 2030, to open the doors to economic and employment opportunities for people in vulnerable situations and to build resilience to shocks.

Founded in 1924, WSBI has members who share a business model that has social responsibility at its core and is focused on serving local communities, households and SMEs. WSBI has 65 members in 88 countries. They serve over 1.8 billion customers, have total assets of over 15 trillion dollars, and employ 2.2 million workers.

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Scale2Save brings Ugandan financial stakeholders to commit to financial inclusion

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

KAMPALA, 28 April 2022 – Key stakeholders of the Ugandan financial ecosystem came together during a Scale2Save knowledge sharing event, which concluded with a joint call to action with concrete steps to boost financial inclusion in the country.

Read the call to action

The signatories of this call to action, and initiative of the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) and its programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, are: the Uganda Bankers Association (UBA), Financial Sector Deepening Uganda (FSDU), The Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU), The Financial Technologies Service Providers Association (FITSPA), and the Mastercard Foundation.

“We are ready to work with all stakeholders to demonstrate the commitment of the industry, particularly in times of shocks. We are also ready to continue making contributions to the empowerment of low-income customers to seize economic opportunities, build resilience and, ultimately, have a better life”, state the signatories of the document.

This commitment was announced at the end of a 2-day Scale2Save event in Kampala entitled ‘Building resilience and economic empowerment for women and youth’ which brought together some 100 participants. Both the event and the call to action focused on the key drivers of financial inclusion such as customer-centricity, the potential of digital finance and sustainable business models.

Michael Atingi-Ego, Bank of Uganda’s Deputy Governor, described the current state of high financial exclusion of women and youth in the country during his keynote speech at the event.

“When you consider these observations about our lived reality, you start to see the imbalance that Scale2Save is attempting to address here today. This extent of financial exclusion of women and the youth tantamount to trying to balance a three-legged stool on one leg. This is unsustainable in a country that is working towards socio-economic transformation”, he said.

“I am pleased to participate in this event because the Bank of Uganda shares the objective of democratising access to and empowering the users of financial services, not least by championing the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, and through our strategic plan and operations. But like the multilegged stool, it will take the contribution of all stakeholders and partners to bring about universal financial inclusion,” added Mr Atingi-Ego.

Scale2Save is a six-year programme working six African countries including Uganda, where it partners with Centenary Bank, FINCA Uganda and BRAC Uganda Bank. Weselina Angelow is Scale2Save Programme Director. During the event, she presented some of the key lessons learned during the last years implementing financial inclusion initiatives in Uganda.

Download our learning paper on Digital Financial Inclusion in Nigeria and Uganda: opportunities and remaining challenges

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Scale2Save champions inclusive financial services for Nigerians

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

LAGOS, 30 March 2022 – The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI)’s programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, has reiterated the importance of inclusive financial services for Nigerian women, youths and farmers as a way to fuel the country’s economic recovery and growth. This was stated at the Scale2Save financial inclusion knowledge sharing event attended by key financial stakeholders across the country.

Watch the TV coverage

Scale2Save is a six-year programme of the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation aimed at establishing the viability of low-balanced savings accounts and to unravel the extent to which savings help vulnerable people in the society to boost their financial wellbeing.

In her keynote address, the Scale2Save Programme Director, Weselina Angelow, highlighted the importance of stakeholders’ knowledge sharing events such as this towards Nigeria’s quest for inclusive growth and economic development. According to her, “As we intensify efforts to improve financial inclusion, it is important that all stakeholders are a part of knowledge and insight-based discourse as this to improve on their processes and make informed financial inclusion decisions.”

Reiterating the commitment of Scale2Save and how the programme is impacting its members as well as other stakeholders, Angelow stated that the programme’s mission is to support financial inclusion initiatives to help millions of Nigerian youths, women and farmers.

“We focus on adding value to all stakeholders along the service value chain by empowering our financial service provider partners to become savings-driven, customer-centric institutions,” she said.

The Mastercard Foundation’s Access to Finance Lead, Mercy Mutua, stressed that financial inclusion is an enabler to help African youth find a way out of poverty.

We acknowledge that a lot has been accomplished but there is a long way to go to address barriers, especially for young rural women. It is Important to tailor solutions relevant to context and customer-centric,” she said in a virtual keynote speech.

Commenting on the need to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria, the Head of Financial Inclusion Secretariat, Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Paul Ihuoma Oluikpe, stated that financial service providers must target specific customer needs with financial inclusion products.

“There are several products in our financial services space that are too generic. These products are not targeting any value proposition, and are not sufficiently differentiated at the customer level. While there are generic products that appeal to the larger audience, there is the need to drill down at the customer level to target different nuances that exist in the society,” Dr. Oluikpe said.

The WSBI’s 2019 financial service provider survey reveals that attitudes to financial inclusion and low-value savings among financial service providers in Nigeria and other key markets in Africa are being significantly transformed as they have intensified their focus on customers, targeting different groups with tailored accounts and savings products.

Despite the significant progress recorded so far, stakeholders believe that there is still a long way to go to attain a satisfactory level of financial inclusion. Confirming this, the Group Head of Financial Inclusion, FCMB, Adetunji Lamidi, said, “Financial illiteracy is a major barrier to financial inclusion. What we see is a situation where a lot of Nigerians still have this overdependence on the informal financial sector. It takes a long trust-building process to switch them from the informal sector they are familiar with into the formal sector. This is why most of the financial service providers have adopted agency banking where people within the neighbourhood are used as bank representatives. This helps to build confidence, trust and convenience into our financial inclusion strategy.”

Through the intervention of Scale2Save, Financial Service Provider (FPIs) partners continue to innovate products and services that are driving up inclusion among the key target groups. Scale2Save continues to drive the message of financial inclusion while engaging with key stakeholders in target countries that can help actualise the inclusion objective.

Download our learning paper on Digital Financial Inclusion in Nigeria and Uganda: opportunities and remaining challenges

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related


African market transaction

Scale2Save case study: innovative business models

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Explores innovative business models and partnerships for financial service providers to effectively access the mass market of low-income customers. Part of Scale2Save's annual State of Savings and Retail Banking in Africa research series.​​

BRUSSELS, 20 May 2021 – ‘A case study on innovative business models: partnerships as a key to unlocking the mass market’, launched today in partnership with FinMark Trust​, is the third of the Scale2Save series on the State of Savings and Retail Banking in Africa.

This study contributes to answering some of the Scale2Save learning programme research questions. Particularly, it sheds light on what constitutes a viable business model for small scale savings. The objective of this series is to inform retail banks and other financial service providers (FSPs) about developments in the industry affecting services to low-income customers.

Scale2Save is a partnership between the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute and the Mastercard Foundation. Its goal is to establish the viability of low-balance savings accounts and to understand the extent to which savings allow vulnerable people to boost their financial resilience and wellbeing.

About this study

Financial services in Africa still have great potential for expansion, particularly in the low-cost market, which remains under-served.

Financial service providers (FSPs) who serve low-income customers face a threefold challenge. Digitization is becoming the norm, both within the financial services industry and in the fast-emerging FinTech sector. They wrestle with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on their customers. And they must simultaneously adapt to changing and more demanding customer expectations. These FSPs are under pressure. How they should adapt to these new, unfolding realities?

New and varied business models are emerging from efforts to address these issues. These models range from cooperation with other FSPs to the use of digitization and FinTech, to tackling addressing infrastructure shortcomings and addressing customer expectations.

This study describes six models, linking each to case studies:

  • Cooperate with other FSPs– FSPs can compensate for their lack of physical infrastructure by partnering with service providers who have a more extensive network to offer their products. Similarly, FSPs with a limited range of products – often prescribed by regulatory or legal considerations – can enhance their value proposition to customers by incorporating products from other FSPs. These models are beneficial to both parties, because the overall business volume will exceed their individual efforts.
  • Cooperate to build and extend financial infrastructure– Despite progress in the past decade, the financial infrastructure in many African countries is still inadequate for the needs of savings-led FSPs. FSPs can work together to tackle these shortcomings, especially in retail payments and credit information systems. Cooperation can be either directly with other FSPs to improve infrastructure or through engagement with financial regulators to establish what the FSPs need to serve customers better.
  • Cooperate with mobile money operators– Mobile money operators (MMOs) are the dominant retail financial service providers in some African countries. This strong market position, combined with the reach of mobile money agents, makes these FSPs attractive partners for banks, enabling them to offer banking services to mobile phone customers. These partnerships are also attractive to MMOs, enabling them to generate additional revenue and enhance their appeal to customers by offering banking services without the challenges of seeking a banking licence.
  • Use FinTech– Innovation in retail financial services is often achieved by independent technology-based companies or FinTech. These companies develop ways of providing financial services digitally, but typically lack direct access to customers. By working together, savings-led FSPs can incorporate the services into their value proposition without having to acquire or develop the internal capacity necessary. FinTech services span a wide range of financial capabilities, from client-onboarding, payments and savings and investments to credit and credit-assessment services.
  • Establish a purely digital FSP– FSPs with strong digital capabilities or commitment can establish a purely digital bank, with no branch network and all client services and interactions done digitally. This may be simpler than trying to digitize an existing operation but is resource-intensive.
  • Cooperate with non-financial service providers– Increasingly, FSPs need to link directly into the economic ecosystem in which they operate. They must enable customers to obtain goods and services where required, and provide the financial service embedded in that interaction. This can take various forms, from the digitization of value chains across all actors (for example in agriculture), to incorporating the FSP’s products in the services of a non-financial service provider (such as remittances sent or received at grocery stores).

In each case we identify the key points that FSPs should take into account when considering a particular model, and give an example of the model, identifying the success factors and hurdles to be overcome.

The study concludes by summarising the strategic questions that FSPs should answer when looking at alternative business models. We provide a decision tree that FSPs can use to guide them in selecting an alternative business model best suited to their situation and environment.

Other studies in this series will address specific approaches to some of these models.

Downloads

Download case studies, in both English and French, to find out more about our Scale2Save research series.

Download the State of the Sector Case Study 2020: Covid-19 Impact services in both English and French

Download the State of the Sector Case Study 2021: Mobile Financial services in both English and French

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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.

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