Remote coaching to prevent dormancy among low-income savers

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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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End Term Evaluation of the Scale2Save Programme

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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.

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Savings and Retail Banking in Africa 2022

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Micro savings, maximum impact.

New 2022: WSBI survey of Financial Inclusion for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises

Scale2Save WSBI’s programme for financial inclusion, launches today its Savings and Retail Banking in Africa 2022 report. This time, WSBI puts the focus on the state of the focus is on the financial inclusion for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The Savings and Retail Banking in Africa research series aims to help improve access to financial services for financially disadvantaged people in Africa.
The 2022 edition is based upon research conducted with WSBI members in up to 34 countries on the African continent. It was produced in collaboration with FinMark Trust under the Scale2Save programme.
The report targets financial institutions, regulators and donors who deploy financial inclusion initiatives to develop the MSME sector in Africa.

Why the reports foundings are crucial ?

It highlights :
· How national strategies favour financial inclusion of MSMEs
· What services FSPs are offering to MSME
· How FSPs contribute to a successful MSME sector
· How financial services enable access to clean energy
· Supporting MSMEs as bank agents, and
· What impedes better financial inclusion of MSMEs

The report concludes with specific recommendations for regulators and policymakers, financial service providers and market facilitators.

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What constitutes a viable business model for small scale savings?

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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

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

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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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A case study on Covid-19: from a customer, retail banking and regulatory perspective

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Téléchargez l'étude de casDownload the case study

First case study of WSBI's Savings and Retail Banking in Africa research series. WSBI's Scale2Save programme produced this case study on the waking of the Covid pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic is the most profound interruption to social and economic activity experienced in much of the world for
more than a century. The scale, timing and exact nature of disruption varies from country to country, but the pandemic has

caused a global recession, millions of job losses, and sharply increased poverty.

The financial sector plays a critical role in softening this macroeconomic shock.  As the pandemic and its social and economic impact unfolded this case study aimed at answering the questions:

  • How has the Covid-19 pandemic changed banking customer behaviour during the first months?
  • How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected banks?
  • How have African regulators responded to the pandemic?

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Scale2Save celebrates International Women's Day

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In honour of International Women's Day, discover how four Scale2Save partners are empowering women and reducing the financial inclusion gender gap in Africa.

BRUSS​ELS, 8 March 2021 – International Women’s Day​​ presents an opportunity for Scale2Save and its partners to showcase their stories. That includes how partners serve and empower women through their projects.

Scale2Save project partners have provided Scale2Save with stories to be shared on the day as part of the programme’s aims to raise awareness around the need to mobilise savings among – and strengthen the resilience of – low-income populations. That includes financially excluded women​​. 

There is interest from governments, NGOs and international bodies to learn more about how financial institutions address the needs of women. For example, financial inclusion is featured as a target in eight Sustainable Development Goals.

Links

First City Monument Bank: NigeriaPostbank: KenyaFINCA: UGANDALAPO Micr​ofinance Bank in Nigeria​

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Scale2Save Peer Review Workshop 2020 Edition

This workshop is the third of the Scale2Save bi-annual peer exchanges that will focus on the programme, project activities and learning.

​​​Covid-19 provides a catalyst for further savings in Africa, according to a nearly two-thirds of banking sector experts attending the first of the three-day WSBI-​Scale2Save programme annual peer exchange virtual workshop.

In an online poll of participants, 59 per cent of nearly 50 participants consider Covid-19 as an enabler of savings, with the remaining respondents saying it dis-enables savings in Africa. Although the question posed did not explore long or short-term impacts of Covid-19 on savings, the result underscores how Scale2Save partner institutions tackle pandemic challenges.

The poll gave attendees a starting point to focus on how Scale2Save programme aims, project activities and learning from research can help address the current pandemic on banks’ ability to establish the viability of small-scale savings in Africa.

Update from Mastercard Foundation

A presentation by Mastercard Foundation’s Diaka Sall, who serves as Lead for Agriculture in Senegal, highlighted the foundation “Young Africa Works” strategy, a bold ambition to ensures 30 million young women and men gain access to dignified and fulfilling work across the continent. Young Africa Works focuses on areas that include micro-, small-, medium-sized enterprises and agriculture digital technology education.

“Service providers continue to expand and offer tailor made solutions, many more Africans would be included in savings will grow at the individual family and community levels, offering a pathway out of poverty. To drive this agenda, however, service providers must be innovative in their thinking and inclusive in their approach.”

“At the MasterCard Foundation, we are blessed to be in a position to partner with organisations such as WSBI under the Scale2Save programme to support initiatives and ensuring many more people on the continent are included and embrace the savings culture. on behalf of the master calculation.”

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Scale2Save publishes European Microfinance Week Panel Summary

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Scale2Save publishes European Microfinance Week panel summary
​​​​​​​​​Panel focused on role of support organisations in encouraging effective and inclusive savings
The following piece provides a summary of a panel session at the first-ever virtual European Microfinance Week that explored the role played by three organisations in savings programmes.

WSBI Scale2Save Programme Director Weselina Angelow joined Ilonka Rûhle-Stern from the Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation e.V and Sukhwinder Arora from Savings at the Frontier to share major lessons learned in serving low-income savers and the challenges that financial service providers (FSPs) can face in encouraging inclusive and effective savings. The panel was moderated by Micol Guarneri, an independent consultant.

Micol Guarneri (picture at right) opened the session by stressing the importance of savings services for poor people and invited the panellists to discuss the value of savings for clients and banks. Sukhwinder Arora told the audience how the savings sector developed over the past decades and why Savings at the Frontier (SatF) programme was set up. Already in the late nineties, people in the microfinance sector realised that the microfinance sector could provide more services than credit only. When Grameen bank offered pension services, in a few years they could mobilise much more savings then all the credit outstanding. However, in the words of Arora: ”It is too early to declare victory of the financial sector in savings”. While poor people love good quality savings services, the business case for providing small savings is not automatic. One of the aspects of savings that still requires a better understanding is, for example, why many poor people who have bank accounts and mobile wallets, still do 80 or 90% of their transactions outside the formal sector and what is the relation between the formal and informal sectors.

Weselina Angelow also looked back at the history of the savings sector, recalling the strong focus on massive outreach and on developing mechanisms that improve access for the poor. There are more than 1.733 billion accounts offered through the WSBI network. The network as part of its commitment to the Worldbank’s Universal Financial Access Agenda (UFA 2020) had between 2015 and 2018 generated 400 million new transaction accounts. In the meantime, the sector has realised that there is more work to do on the quality of savings. The Scale2Save programme of WSBI aims to support 12 FSPs in six African countries to build a better understanding of the value of financial services for poor people and the business case for low-value savings. The programme drives development of customer-centric solutions that help clients to become resilient and improve their well-being. Scale2Save has to date reached out to 490,000 savers. It further conducts research that looks at customer needs, the quality and business models for inclusive savings. .

Ilonka Rühle-Stern explained how the MFI RENEW worked out a business model for savings in Bhutan. They informed rural people that they could become eligible for a loan after six months of regular saving small amounts of as little as €1 per month. The low barriers to saving kept drop-out rates to a minimum. With this business model, simple financial products and thanks to the absence of competitor FIs in the remote region, RENEW has reached a customer base of 22,000 people and a portfolio of savings and loans worth €2.5 million. The savings not only covered many of the loans, but also created the critical mass of clients for the microfinance institutions (MFIs) to become successful. Building financial literacy was another key success factor. The MFI staff organises centre meetings once per month to serve their clients, using those meetings to also inform them on the various aspects of finance.

Guarneri then asked the panellists to discuss some of the challenges that financial institutions are facing and how they can be supported to overcome these challenges. According to Arora, the core activity of support organisations in the savings sector is to find sustainable business cases. He used the example of geographical proximity to explain this. For many financial service providers, reaching out to rural people is a challenge, because branching out with many offices increases operational costs. SatF supports partner FSPs as to how to use satellite imagery and geo tagging with practical Excel-based tools, to visualise the geographical span of their agents. This helps them identify where they can improve uptake of their services and improve efficiency.

Angelow agreed that convenience of services and proximity are key to improve access. For inclusive business models, FSPs should develop customer-centric solutions that take the value added for customers as the point of departure. Save2Scale provides coaching to FSPs for change management to become customer-centric institutions where the customer is at the centre of attention along the entire value chain of the financial service offer. The coaching can help build an inclusive savings mentality, support the digital customer journey or analyse how customer-centric a FSP already is. For lasting change, it is important that FSP staff own the change process. They must be empowered to make the change. There can be no sustained change if the FSP does not recognise the benefits of the change agenda. Angelow added that the FSP can be supported with data intelligence to be able to see the benefits of a more adaptive and integrated business model approach. The change should also be organisation-wide across the different functional teams and may include changes in organisational culture and customer engagement. In summary, the FSPs should become learning organisations. Guarneri and Rühle-Stern confirmed the importance of the management’s mindset and of the organisation’s culture to make the difficult transformation from a credit institution to a credit and savings institution. According to Rühle-Stern, for support organisations to be effective, they do not necessarily need a strong partner at the outset, but rather a partner that is willing to adapt and learn.

Guarneri asked Rühle-Stern to share some of the lessons learned from past experiences with encouraging inclusive savings. Rühle-Stern argued that finding a balance between social and financial aspects is key to success. MFIs must at least cover their costs to be financially sustainable. At the same time, savings services require more patience from MFIs than credit services. Improving inclusiveness through savings requires building an understanding of the target group through focus group discussion and other types of market research. MFIs must also understand that inclusiveness and effectiveness complement each other. For example, RENEW MFI uses savings to refinance loans thus being less dependent on external (expensive) refinance.

Guarneri asked Arora how support organisations can help FSPs with the analysis of data, to which Arora responded that FPSs have to start by accepting that ‘approximately correct’ is better than to be precisely wrong. With that in mind, FSPs and support organisations should start collecting not just quantitative but also qualitative data and analysing data jointly. They can analyse the performance of branches and products and create dashboards of particular relevance to the FSPs. The usefulness of qualitative data collected through phone calls should not be overlooked. Arora argued that many FSPs spend a lot of resources on marketing. They should also spend resources on the collection of data to learn from customers’ behaviour and feedback to improve their performance. If customers really like the product, they will do the marketing. Angelow added that Scale2Save can provide operational toolkits for FSPs to support them with the translation of research findings to solutions.

Angelow also argued that customer engagement in the savings sector is sometimes very low and that formal savings are not yet fully effective and inclusive. Scale2Save’s definition of an active and engaged customer is a customer that makes at least one transaction per month. The programme bundles financial products to trigger more engagement. At the same time, the programme aims to keep the number of different savings products limited to prevent confusion among customers.

Finally, Angelow argued that micro savings customers may value safety and accessibility more than low prices. This could imply a need for building more trust in customer relationships, digital solutions for other aspects of the business model and convenience partnerships with other organisations.

 

About European Microfinance Week

More than 500 participants from 60 countries took part in 50 sessions at the European Microfinance Week, hosted by e-MFP – the European Microfinance Platform. A top event in the financial inclusion calendar, the event provides a unique meeting point for microfinance and financial inclusion professionals working worldwide. EMW brings together all sectors of the inclusive finance industry including consultants & support service providers, investors, multilateral & national development agencies, NGOs and researchers. With an unparalleled programme and prestigious speakers, European Microfinance Week is recognised for its high-quality sessions and excellent networking opportunities.

Read the full e-MFP report on 'Lessons and Best Practices from the European Microfinance Award 2020

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Savings and Retail Banks in Africa: Research Report 2019

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African banks must re-think business models to compete in the low-income market
Scale2Save research shows banks value efficiency, a digital offer, and customer-centric service, but must boost all in a fiercely competitive segment

BRUSSELS, 12 March 2020 – ​A new report released in March shows that financial service providers (FSPs) in Africa see value in serving low-income people but need to overhaul their business models in an increasingly cost-competitive environment. The report, “Savings and Retail Banking in Africa”, was released today by the Scale2Save programme, a partnership between WSBI and Mastercard Foundation to establish the viability of low-balance savings accounts in six African countries.

Low-income markets valued by banks surveyed

Based on survey data harvested from 37 FSPs in Africa, the report finds that they see low-income markets as more and more viable for their operations. Hosting about 12% of Africa’s retail bank accounts and 26% of accounts in countries covered by the survey, these providers are responding with new accounts, products, and fee structures. Their efforts to win new customers, however, too often fail to appeal, and accounts lapse into inactivity.

WSBI’s Weselina Angelow, who leads Scale2Save, said: “To reach low-income people better, FSPs must research markets, taking pains to find opportunities while grasping better what different market segments need and tailor products accordingly.”

“FSPs need to optimise processes and boost digitisation,” she added, “sometimes via partnerships which can help pare down operating costs. When banks transform themselves, a true opportunity takes hold as customers enjoy lower costs.”

The 2019 report builds on the 2018 edition and goes beyond the WSBI membership to a broader set of FSPs in more African markets. It also draws on a richer data set and includes case studies that highlight innovation, partnerships, and listening to people’s needs on the ground, thinking differently about how to serve them.

Banks’ prefered chanels: Mobile banking, roving agents

The latest data show the FSPs have a sharpened focus on customers, targeting different segments of people with tailored accounts and savings products. Respondents – both WSBI member and non-WSBI member banks – see many advantages to mobile banking. Non-members appear sanguine on deploying roving agents, the channel of choice to reach the unbanked, drive account growth, and put downward pressure on fees that cost-conscious customers shun.

The number of accounts offered by the 21 WSBI members surveyed surged 24% year on year. Meantime, the savings products tally jumped 27%. Despite this double-digit growth, disappointingly low account activity persists. Only 43% of transaction accounts are active. That measure falls to a mere 17% for mobile banking accounts.

Regulatory concerns: Know-Your-Customer, enabling innovation

A surprising 63% of WSBI respondents expressed concerns over regulation. Know-Your-Customer regulations, conceived to combat money-laundering and terrorism, are increasingly seen as a barrier to extending financial inclusion.

“Proportionate rule-making hugely matters,” said Weselina Angelow, “but appears inadequate to protect customers, provide value, and bolster outcomes. Beyond regulation that protects customers, authorities play a vital role to enable innovation and support – or even direct – broader and deeper access to financial services.”

Notes to editor:

About Scale2Save: Scale2Save is a partnership between WSBI and Mastercard Foundation to establish the viability of small-scale savings in six African countries. The six-year programme aims for 1 million more people banked in those countries through projects using innovative models. Learn more about Scale2Save online and @Scale2Save on Twitter.

About 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.

​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.

Methodology: WSBI conducted primary research in a similar way to its study released last year, using the same survey questionnaire. WSBI surveyed the 31 WSBI members in Africa, and 21 responded. In addition, WSBI contacted banks within the Financial Sector Deepening/FinMark Trust network and received another 16 responses. Responses were provided by FSPs of varying types and sizes, and market positions. Any analyses of aggregated responses will tend to be influenced by the larger FSPs. Similarly, analyses dealing with responses “on average” will give greater significance to the smaller organisations. The number of respondents is not large enough to provide categorisations based on type of FSP (often related to size). This is an area where additional work in later studies could be worthwhile. The results from the survey should also not necessarily be interpreted as being indicative of the market, since they represent the views of the FSPs that responded to the survey. The respondents were not chosen at random, so the results only apply to the respondents. WSBI gathered demand-side information and insights from the Global Findex surveys for 2011, 2014 and 2017 and from FinScope surveys conducted in Africa in the past five years. The FinScope surveys are nationally representative consumer surveys covering all aspects of financial inclusion and issues that are pertinent to a particular country. These surveys stem from the original FinScope survey conducted in the early 2000s in South Africa by FinMark Trust. Apart from the WSBI surveys, researchers obtained additional supply-side indicators from the IMF Financial Access Survey. Market insights came from interviews with market facilitators in eight African countries. Authors consulted existing published research on the African low-value savings and transaction market, and relevant insights are shared in this report.

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