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



An opportunity for the banking sector to work with informal savings groups in Morocco

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

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Tontine, an ancestral practice, is tending to modernize : thanks to digital technology

Tontine, an ancestral practice, is tending to modernize thanks to digital technology.
The objective of the research is to conduct a qualitative and quantitative study case based on qualitative and quantitative identifies opportunities related to the launch of a digital tontine offer. Tontine from an ancestral practice to a modernized version thanks to digital technology
Download the study in French or English to access key findings around mobile payment, funding sources, participation to informal savings groups, smartphone and mobile internet penetration in Morocco.


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.




Unpacking the customer through demand side data

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Micro savings, maximum impact.

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WSBI's Scale2Save programme launched the sixth case study of its Savings and Retail Banking in Africa research series. The publication 'Unpacking the customer through demand side data' gives examples of financial service providers who have used public data to develop customer-centric products and services.

Available in English and French, it presents examples of financial service providers (FSPs) who have used data to better understand and serve low-income customers by developing customer-centric solutions. It includes examples from WSBI members Awash Bank Ethiopia, BRAC Uganda Bank Limited and Zambia’s Zanaco.

Why read this case study?

Because it shows that data and research are valuable tools to acquire and retain customers and expand the customer base. This is crucial to attracting new customers in Africa, where informal employment is commonplace.

The development of customer centric products and operations helps ensure that customers who engage with the bank continue to do so, by aligning products with customer needs, and retiring them if they no longer do.


Digital platforms serving the agricultural sector

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

BRUSSELS, 18 November 2021 - The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, launched today ‘A case study on digital platforms serving the agricultural sector’, the fifth of its State of the Savings and Retail Banking Sector in Africa research series.

This new publication, co-authored with FinMark Trust, an independent non-profit trust for making financial markets work for the poor, explores the topic from the point of view of Financial Service Providers (FSPs). It aims to answer two key questions FSPs must consider when weighing whether to launch an online platform for farmers: Why should I participate – and if I do, what must I keep in mind? This case study looks at a variety of African agricultural platform providers and more closely at three platform models: bank-led (First City Monument Bank in Nigeria), fintech-led (DigiFarm in Kenya) and telco-led (EcoFarmer in Zimbabwe).

The emergence of digital platforms serving farmers in Africa is of enormous importance as the agricultural sector employs more than half of the continent’s labour force, and accounts for almost 20% of the continent’s gross domestic product.

Platform models are still very new in the agricultural arena. However, the use of platform services to support smallholder farmers has blossomed. During the pandemic they proved a valuable lifeline, enabling farmers to stay in touch with their value chain partners, from financial service providers to farm input suppliers and off-takers.

Looking forward, agricultural digital platforms clearly have the potential to play a powerful role as a catalyst for financial inclusion and to transform the food sector into a more inclusive one that offers viable opportunities for smallholder farmers.

This case study is guided by the overarching objective of the WSBI research series, which is to inform FSPs about developments in the finance industry that affect services to low-income customers.

WSBI’s Scale2Save programme is a six-year partnership with the Mastercard Foundation.

The publication is available for download free of charge here.


Case study cover

The publication is available for download here.



Digitalisation of financial service providers to serve low-income customers

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

New Scale2Save case study: BRUSSELS, 30 September 2021 - The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI)’s programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, launched today ‘A case study on connecting with low-income customers through digitalisation’, part of its State of the Savings and Retail Banking Sector in Africa research series.

Digitalisation is revolutionising the way financial service providers conduct their business. In Africa, the spread of mobile phones over the past two decades allowed the development of new forms of mobile transactions. Now digitalisation of African financial service providers is entering a new phase, as the widening use of mobile phones to access the Internet enables the roll-out of profitable digital services for low-income customers.

This new publication, co-authored with FinMark Trust, explores the answers to a question that many executives are asking: How best to digitalise a financial institution? The case study draws upon management consulting literature to assess digitalisation strategies in a pragmatic way. It also assesses three leading African financial organisations against this framework: Al Barid Bank, Morocco; Equity Bank, Kenya; and Consolidated Bank, Ghana.

The aim of this publication, as of the Scale2Save programme, is to identify the elements for financial service providers to serve low-income people and therefore boost financial inclusion. By opening the doors of remote access to formal savings and payments to people long excluded from them, these new customers get opportunities to improve their economic situation. They are enabled to smooth consumption, build assets, prepare against risks and improve their ability to cope and recover from shocks. In the context of Covid and its consequences, this case study highlights the importance of speeding up digitalisation by financial services providers not only in their service offer but also as dynamic organisations and as part of a digital financial ecosystem. It also underscores customer centred initiatives as a key to success.

WSBI’s Scale2Save is a six-year partnership with the Mastercard Foundation.


The publication is available for download here.


BRAC Uganda working in Covid times

Maintaining customer and investor confidence during Covid

Improved liquidity position allows financial service providers to focus on pandemic recovery

The Covid-19 pandemic is the latest crisis that is putting pressure on financial service providers (FSPs) globally. Lockdowns and regulatory moratoriums on loan repayments, together with a lower business activity are putting serious constraints on FSP’s liquidity positions. Early in the Covid pandemic, there was widespread concern that liquidity constraints could wipe out many of the financial institutions that serve low-income customers and small- and medium sized enterprises.

Two recent reports issued by CFI/e-MFP and CGAP point to the vital importance of managing liquidity in the midst of a crisis. After all, the quickest path to failure of an FSP is running out of cash. Available liquidity should be used to retain the confidence and trust of both customers and creditors while continuing to operate and paying staff.  Once stability is achieved, an FSP can start its recovery, but this cannot be achieved without retaining the confidence of customers, investors, staff, and the regulator.

Evidence of successful crisis response

Scale2Save is a partnership between WSBI and the Mastercard Foundation to establish the viability of small-scale savings in six African countries. To analyse the impact of the Covid crisis on the liquidity profile of our partner FSPs, we compared the pre-crisis liquidity position at end of year 2019 with that at end of 2020 when a cautious and gradual recovery of the Covid pandemic had set in. Across our programme partners, we collected liquidity gap reports from four banks and three deposit taking microfinance institutions in four countries: Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Morocco, and Uganda.

Liquidity risk arises from both the difference between the size of positions of assets and liabilities and the mismatch in their maturities. When the maturity of assets and liabilities differ, an FSP might experience a shortage of cash and therefore a liquidity gap. A liquidity gap report profiles assets and liabilities into relevant maturity groupings based on contractual maturity dates and is an important tool in monitoring overall liquidity risk exposure. A liquidity gap report is a standard disclosure included in audited financial statements of our project partner institutions.

Increased customer deposit balances

All partner financial institutions increased their customer deposit volume at the end of 2020 compared to pre-Covid crisis level. Perhaps more importantly, they also mostly managed to increase the proportion of customer deposit funding as part of total liabilities, as seen in the graph below.

The partner banks seem to have been more successful in increasing deposit volume compared to microfinance institutions. However, caution needs to be taken in generalising this conclusion as country and institution specific factors are also at play.

Lower dependency on borrowed funds

International creditors have been very supportive to banks and microfinance institutions during the Covid crisis, granting waivers for breaches of loan covenants, providing for temporary suspensions of interest and loan repayments, restructuring of loan terms and new financing. However, given the ample liquidity available from customer funding and the higher cost associated with international borrowings and debt issuance, most partner institutions chose to run-off these borrowings during 2020 lowering the proportion of borrowings in the funding mix. The average maturity of outstanding debt dropped as a result, as the following graph reveals.

Improved liquidity profile

The maturity of customer loans and advances increased during the crisis due to loan moratoriums and the related rescheduling and restructuring. The loan maturity loan terms of all partner FSPs extended, with one example of a 216% increase, seen below, in the case of an institution which generally has extremely short loan maturities.

On the liability side, contractual maturities of funding decreased for all partner FSPs, except one.  This was mainly the result of international borrowings that expired or that were not rolled over.

When considered from the perspective of contractual maturities, the combination of lengthening loan terms and shorter funding maturities would suggest a worsening of the structural liquidity position of an FSP. However, the anticipated maturity of retail customer current accounts, security and savings deposits is often much longer than their contractual maturity, when taking into account the behavioural characteristics of a large and diversified pool of individual accounts that exhibit “stickiness”. Only a proportion of these retail customer balances will be drawn down on contractual maturity date and the entire pool provides a more stable, long-term source of funding.

This point can be illustrated with reference to the international liquidity standards issued by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision for the calculation of expected cash outflows for two key liquidity risk indicators, the liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) and the net stable funding ratio (NSFR). The Basel standards assume that between 3% and 10% of retail deposits[1] would actually run-off over the next 30 days under an adverse liquidity scenario. The corollary of this is that 90-97% of retail deposit funding can be considered to be stable in nature and of longer duration. As short-term customer account funding (<30days) of our partner institutions make up a significant proportion of the total customer funding (between 30% and 90%), a large part of these funds can therefore be considered as “core” and provide a stable funding base to compensate for the extended loan maturities from Covid impacted loan rescheduling.

The Basel global liquidity standards are meant as guidance and FSPs operating in less developed markets and more volatile environments may experience higher deposit run-off rates in case of liquidity stress.  Nevertheless, a significant proportion of our partners’ customer account and savings balances can be considered as stable.

Institutional resilience in face of the Covid crisis

At the outset of the Covid crisis, our partner institutions invoked their pandemic crisis management plan and took protective measures for customers and staff to prevent infection and transmission.  Partner institutions granted credit relief to borrowers in the form of loan moratoriums in line with regulatory forbearance measures.  Digital access to customer accounts was stepped up, so customers could meet household consumption expenditure during the lockdown.

Our partners have withstood the liquidity stress induced by the Covid crisis and successfully retained the confidence of customers and investors.  With a cautious and gradual recovery from the Covid pandemic underway, FSPs can now focus on recovery steps higher up the hierarchy of financial institutions crisis management needs.  These needs were described in the CFI/e-MFP report in the following order of priority: liquidity, confidence, portfolio and capital.

With stability restored, FSPs can now shift their recovery efforts to managing the loan portfolio by balancing collections of overdue loans with the need to continue lending to reliable low-income customers and small- and medium-sized enterprises and maintaining capital adequacy levels when Covid-related regulatory forbearance measures will expire.

Through surveys and case studies the Scale2Save programme continues to investigate the driving factors that influence the different outcomes of Covid crisis management.

A blog published on the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP). To read the original version (including graphs) visit this page.


How to get a historic bilateral deal to share agent banking infrastructure

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Scale2Save Partners go from competition to cooperation


Originally published on FinDev Gateway

By Kimathi Githachuri, Scale2Save Local Technical Specialist

On a warm quiet morning in Uganda last October, FINCA kicked-off retail cash-in and cash-out transactions through agents of its traditional rival, Centenary Bank. It was a low-key event, muffled by COVID-19 restrictions, that did not reflect the extraordinary nature of the occasion. For the first time in the history of African banking, two erstwhile competitors were, on their own accord – without regulatory prodding – choosing to share service-distribution infrastructure, for the benefit of end-user low-income customers, in a bilateral arrangement.

Enticing two competing financial institutions to work together is not an easy task. Particularly if the proposal is about convincing rivals, who operate in the same geographic environment, to share infrastructure in a way that might advance the interests of one of them.

It is therefore no wonder that eyebrows were raised when, just a couple of months to the onset of the pandemic, the WSBI Scale2Save programme made the proposition to FINCA Uganda and Centenary Bank to consider sharing agency banking infrastructure.  Smarting from the rejection of a similar proposition made to two of its partners in one of other five focus countries, the Scale2Save team was better armed to respond to the anticipated preliminary objections.

Who are the partners?

Centenary Bank, on the other hand, is the country’s leading commercial microfinance bank, serving more than 1.8 million consumers.. It built its reputation earlier on in rural development banking and servicing the Catholic Church, which is its single largest shareholder. The bank has evolved and now attends to the needs of a wider range of retail and corporate customers through an expanded product portfolio. Centenary was amongst the first banks in the country to roll out agent banking operations, and currently boasts the largest network of agents of any bank in Uganda.

Centenary Rural Development Bank Ltd, as the Bank is officially known, is a founding member of the Agency Banking Company (ABC), a multi-laterally shared agency banking implementation managed under the Uganda Bankers Association (UBA), the umbrella lobby for financial institutions in Uganda. It contributes more than 50% of its existing 5,000 strong agency banking network under the ABC arrangement – thus already enabling multiple financial institutions access to its own successful channel. Due to the restrictions already mentioned above, FINCA is not allowed to participate in this effort.

What is in it for the Partners?

An agency banking operation would provide FINCA the opportunity to compete with other FSPs on equal footing for new customers and extend service distribution to existing customers.

Under the Scale2Save programme, access to the agency banking channel provided by Centenary affords FINCA the opportunity to expand its digital banking footprint, effectively completing the customer journey puzzle; where customers are on-boarded using its mobile banking channel and access to, and deposit of, funds using an agency banking network that is already ubiquitous and fully operational.

The motivation for Centenary Bank to offer its investment – which conservatively costs anything from a million US dollars to roll out – to be unreservedly accessed by a third-party institution and its customers is that it gets to optimise the capacity of its agents, which offers improved returns for the agents, as well as some marginal revenue increment to the bank.

Under the Scale2Save programme, Centenary can also test, re-design and recast its technology and operational capability to support other micro-finance deposit taking institutions (MDIs) like FINCA, using its proprietary agency banking channel. This is an arrangement that the ABC is currently not able to facilitate.

 What were the Enablers?

Organisational Chemistry: During the negotiations of the Centenary-FINCA deal, we were lucky that both organisations’ CEOs had great camaraderie, which had a reverberating effect on the rest of the rank and file in the two institutions, leading to great working chemistry. Outstanding issues that would ordinarily get in the way of the preliminary and technical engagements were quickly resolved.

Product and Technology Design: Discussions included technical design elements and commercial components touching on pricing and market engagement. Eventually, a decision was made to limit provision of FINCA services to cash in and cash out payments only. Both parties considered third-party customer on-boarding at the agent a touchy issue – both from a competitor as well as regulatory perspective – and was therefore excluded as part of the initial offering.

Regulatory Support: Against the expectations, Bank of Uganda was refreshingly supportive of the agreement, and advanced specific advisory that would balance the aspirations of the partners, while ensuring that the provisions of the law and regulations were adhered to. Finally, the central bank gave its approval.

The Net Effect

Six months into the launch of the service, transactions through-put have an over 95% success rate – considered high for such a novel deployment. More than USD7million worth of transactions have been made by FINCA customers in at least 1,500 Centenary Bank agents spread across the country. Up to 80% of these transactions have been deposit transactions, underscoring the critical role distribution plays in mobilising deposits and catalysing savings. Besides improved access in remote locations, FINCA customers can maintain a healthy credit score while meeting their credit repayment obligations.

In addition, Centenary Bank agents are happy to benefit from additional transactions, which could eventually encourage further investments in the agency banking channel. Centenary Bank also gets the benefit of a proven test case on supporting MFIs/MDIs and other unregulated entities in mobilising deposits and customer support for their financial services.


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.


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


Microfinance bank empowers Nigerian women through financial inclusion

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

​​International Women’s Day special report: LAPO addresses financial challenges women face

While conducting business, they often confront a lack of access to affordable credit. Constrained to short-term loans, poor women depend on moneylenders who charge exploitative rates as high as 300% per annum. This worsens their poverty and financial distress.
LAPO, a microfinance bank, looks to help. A Scale2Save partner, they aim to empower women in business, promote savings culture, and to provide easy access to education amongst other benefits. For example, they address financial challenges women face through provision of financial products and services with affordable conditions.
One offer opens credit access to Nigerian women through its “Supporting Female Entrepreneurs (SUFEN)” loan. They promote savings by women through its Scale2save-supported My Pikin & I savings account. The offer primarily targets women who either fall in the low-income bracket, are unbanked, own micro- or small-scale enterprises or living in rural, semi-urban and urban centers.

The account enables existing and prospective clients to start saving with as low as 200 Naira. A multiple of N5,000 saved for three months presents clients the opportunity to qualify for one year of free fire, theft and disability insurance. Saving N60,000 for six months qualifies a client’s child for a LAPO education scholarship. Women able to save N150, 000 for 12 months earn an additional two percentage points on an existing 4.05% interest on their savings. That moves the rate to 6.05% – edging out most banks who compete in this highly populous west African country.

An innovated approach for women

Carefully designed with an extremely low entry requirement of N200, the LAPO My Pikin & I savings account ensures greater numbers of disadvantaged women have product access. The deliberate milestone criteria requirement to enable clients to take full advantage of the various benefits aims at inculcating savings habits in women and to ensure that the target audience are not disenfranchised. The provision of one-year free fire, burglar and disability insurance seeks to provide additional cover to both mother and child to re-assure and elevate their social status as well as self-confidence.

The uniquely designed product focuses on women, and its dynamics – low threshold entry, gradual but consistent savings, as well as milestones to take advantage of benefits – clearly defined to achieve female inclusion. Mother and child benefit from micro-insurance, while the education scholarship gives a needed boost for the young one. LAPO’s “milestone” model encourages consistent savings to be able to take full advantage of the product benefits.

LAPO’s client base, staff levels mostly women

The microfinance bank takes a deliberate and focused attempt to boost women empowerment across clients and staff alike. With more that 4.5 million customers as of January 2020, 73% are women/. Women make up 57% of its 7,476-strong workforce. To ensure its clients and prospective clients enjoy unfettered access to this product, LAPO deploys 1,300 agents, 105 agent banking officers, a dedicated 24/7 call centre and more than 490 branches across 34 out of 36 states within the country. Clients also can take full advantage of its benefits, thereby, defining better adoption and inclusion.

Change your best: Serving women better

A review of LAPO’s My Pikin & I savings account current statistics reveal that women make up 85% of its more than 18,000 client base as of January 2020. Evidencece from data analysed suggests a dramatic change in the way women adopt and use savings as a tool of financial inclusion, economic empowerment and bridging several other forms of social challenges. The products’ education scholarship benefit is one of the factors that motivates them to save. This feature provides some relief for mothers, who not only save to ensure a better future for their family while oftentimes shepherding the education of children living within the household.

Beyond the product, LAPO’s see value in well-trained staff who give support, and to deliver to women exceptional service.

Dr. Godwin Ehigiamusoe, Ph.D., Managing Director at LAPO, said: “Clients adopt savings because LAPO provides value beyond savings. Trust and mutual respect have deepened thanks to a personalised client engagement model. LAPO goes one step further by providing training for micro-businesses to help strengthen their business savvy.

“We take a full-service, committed approach with people who look to us for financial services. From our prompt insurance claims payment follow up, scholarship disbursement to other benefits. Coupled with our regular stakeholder engagement/education guarantee we drive sustained behavioral change. That change uplifts women in their daily lives.”