Scale2Save brings Ugandan financial stakeholders to commit for 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.

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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.

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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.

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Scale2Save is empowering Nigerian women through financial inclusion

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

On the occasion of International Women's Day

By Irene Wagaki

 

In 2019, LAPO Microfinance Bank of Nigeria undertook an audacious goal to onboard over 168,000 savers in three years through a child savings account. To help them meet this goal, management decided to use a Human-Centered Design (HCD) process to evaluate and revamp their offering. The My Pikin & I account, which means “My Child and I,” seeks to motivate consistent savings through incentives including micro-insurance for mothers and scholarships for their children.

Read it on FinDev Gateway

With the support of WSBI’s Scale2Save programme for financial inclusion and IDEO.org, the LAPO team conducted a two-phased HCD process. The first phase involved research, synthesis and ideation, and the second phase was prototyping, iteration and refining. Immersive research techniques such as observation, interviews and focus groups were used, followed by synthesis of findings to draw persona maps and insights that fed into the ideation activities.

Here’s what we learned through this process:

1

Make sure you have a specific strategic outcome in mind that human-centered design can address. In the case of the My Pikin & I product, the goals became clear upon holding initial stakeholder sessions with LAPO Microfinance Bank’s senior management teams. They sought to attract new clients and motivate them to save consistently, thus helping them attain the MFI’s goal for deposit mobilization. HCD was needed to realize that goal as it centers on clients’ personal needs and aspirations while meeting the institution’s strategic goals.

2

Keep it simple. Co-creating with customers requires simplified prototypes. The HCD process helped LAPO Microfinance Bank make communication materials more accessible to its target audience. During the prototyping exercises, customers suggested rewording the messaging to show the benefits one incentive at a time rather than providing loads of information in one poster.

3

Find out what motivates your clients and capitalize on it. Immersive customer interviews helped the LAPO Microfinance Bank team realize that the ability to save was not enough of a motivation for customers. They needed to see tangible benefits from the start in order to save consistently. So the team added a microinsurance incentive, offering premium-free coverage against accident and critical illness, that is tied to consistent savings behaviour. According to the product roadmap, LAPO Microfinance Bank plans to extend the cover to include health insurance. The design team was also intrigued to discover that customers preferred to keep their physical cashbooks as evidence of their savings rather than rely on the fully digitized system the team had designed. This finding provided an opportunity for LAPO Microfinance Bank to build trust by offering a redesigned physical cashbook, thus reinforcing the physical attachment to the cashbook as well as providing a savings tracking tool. Complementary evidence of transactions is also provided via SMS confirmation.

4

Customer-facing agents and personnel require the right tools, not just training. LAPO’s “aha” moment came when they realized that staff didn’t actually need more training on how to explain products’ features to new customers. What they really needed was a handy tool for onboarding customers. The design team created a visual pitch of the My Pikin & I product that spoke to the target customers’ aspirations, needs and concerns. The videos serve as explainers and are displayed on a tablet as part of the customer onboarding process.

5

Take advantage of the transformative potential of the HCD process. At its core, HCD is a highly collaborative process. LAPO’s team brought together people from many different departments, including savings, research, agency banking and customer service. They all participated in prototyping exercises with customers, using the feedback they received to adjust product design. This experience brought about organizational transformation for LAPO Microfinance Bank, as it helped to impart new skills, break hierarchy barriers and develop more innovative mindsets.

Next steps for LAPO: Experimentation Phase

After going through the HCD process, LAPO Microfinance Bank implemented the My Pikin & I product with a heavy on-ground presence of agents and roving staff. These agents continue to complement the bank’s physical and digital banking channels, especially in rural locations.

Their efforts have been successful. Since the products’ re-launch in 2019, over 125,000 new customers have joined LAPO Microfinance Bank and opened My Pikin & I accounts. However, the microinsurance incentive has not experienced a proportionate increase in uptake, with only 7,400 insurance takers. For LAPO Microfinance Bank to optimize the My Pikin & I product fully with its go-to-market strategies, the next step would be an experimentation phase to study which insurance benefits are most effective in sustaining a positive savings behavior.

Ultimately, the human-centered design process should be incorporated as an ongoing way of doing business, as it can help the MFI keep its clients’ needs and desires at the forefront, while also working towards the institutions’ goals.

 

About the author

Irene Wagaki works as a consultant for WSBI’s Scale2Save programme for financial inclusion in Africa. She is a behavioral researcher and designer at Lime Group Africa with experience in leading Human-Centered Design for digital financial services, savings, microinsurance, financial literacy and agri-business interventions. She holds an MBA and certifications in Behavioral Science, Human Centered Design and Digital Identity.

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Covid 19 WSBI Statement

United efforts indispensable to overcome crisis

We welcome both the decision to update the Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process (SREP) Guidelines and the overarching objectives to increase convergence of practices across the EU and to align with other relevant EBA Guidelines.

The financial industry faces an unprecedented challenge that may last for quite some time due to the coronavirus pandemic, states a letter for policymakers worldwide from savings and retail banking association WSBI. Signed by its President Isidro Fainé and Managing Director Chris De Noose, the letter says focus starts with saving as many lives as possible, eradicating the coronavirus pandemic and ensuring that the so-called “real economy” suffers as little as possible from vast Covid-19-caused economic damage.

Support measures done so far by governments can help SMEs, WSBI writes, expecially the the self-employed and individuals, as well as larger, heavily affected industries such as the services sector at large, in particular manufacturing, transport and tourism.

“Economic, financial, fiscal and social measures need to be designed and implemented straightaway, the letter states, adding “international cooperation is of utmost importance. The world needs to face the coronavirus crisis with decisive actions in a united and well-coordinated manner.”

Committed to people, communities, SMEs and beyond

Savings and retail banks fully commit to supporting their customers, the letter states, be it individual people, families, SMEs, institutions, young people, the elderly and society in general who live in urban as well as in rural areas. “We aim to figure out the best, sustainable solutions. Locally rooted savings and retail banks have a crucial stabilising function in times of crisis with their infrastructure, closer relationship with customers and continuous lending.” WSBI member banks help SMEs and other companies overcome liquidity bottlenecks and provide stability. “For this to succeed,” WSBI added, “everything possible should be done in regulatory and macroprudential terms to maintain the liquidity and credit supply.”

On firmer footing since crisis

Playing an essential part of the solution, savings and retail banks see major financial reforms during the past decade have made their banks safer, more stable and more resilient in the face of shocks. Facing the coronavirus on stronger footing, their inclusive and socially committed approach to banking remains vital and steadfast during challenging times like these, they note.

WSBI added: “Clients of savings and retail banks can continue to rely on their banks as partners that do their utmost to mitigate the effects of this critical situation. Now, more than ever, we will stand strong to provide confidence, comfort and trust when customers and communities need it most.”

Policy ideas to give banks enough flexibility

WSBI members welcome the measures already taken by authorities, and proposes ideas to give banks “enough flexibility to continue supporting their customers. Some steps already taken need additional guidance and extended scope to achieve their objectives.” They include:

  • temporarily relax the rules when it comes to capital and liquidity buffers
  • increase monitoring, develop contingency plans and provide additional support for the most hard-hit sectors – tourism, transportation and the hospitality industry – by easing the tax burden for certain much-affected firms in vulnerable regions.
  • a plan to recover economic activity and production of goods and services and to stimulate consumption to prevent the economy from recession.
  • public authorities should free up additional capital and provide loan guarantees
  • flexibility on the asset quality assessment of loans by supervisors when public moratoria on payments have been implemented. This would also strengthen banks in temporarily supporting solvent clients facing liquidity difficulties.

IFRS 9 accounting standard implementation for the recognition of loan loss provisions should take into account the disruptive Covid-19 crisis. It is crucial that banks are granted enough manoeuvring room to modify the payment schedule of the affected borrowers without affecting their accounting provisions nor their solvency; that is, avoiding the increase in non-performing assets that would derive from the current regulations.

​Global coordination, relief measures much needed

At national and regional level, much can be done through coordination among policymakers, keeping neighbors in mind. At a global level, need exists for G20 to prioritise global financial stability, a sustainable and swift recovery and a balanced development as common goals. The recent G7 leaders’ commitment to do ‘whatever is necessary’ to support the global economy, a very well received first step, but future decisions regarding interpretation, adjustments, and tailoring of regulations must be properly coordinated at global level via the Financial Stability Board, the Basel Committee, the International Organization of Securities Commissions and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors. The IMF has also underlined the need for global coordination in its recent paper on policy.

What happens next

WSBI suggests in its statement that regulatory authorities ask themselves if new regulatory requirements that are planned to be implemented in 2020-2022 are critical, or, if there is a possibility, that they can be delayed by 1-2 years, depending on how the crisis further develops. Even if only a part of the upcoming regulation could be delayed this would certainly help banks, and other players, to focus their resources on critical immediate action.

Once the emergency has been overcome and the situation is stable, it may be useful to carry out an impact assessment in order to see what measures should be taken to ensure that the global economy is still growing.

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WSBI statement on Covid-19: united efforts to overcome the crisis are indispensable

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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.

Downloads

Case study cover

The publication is available for download here.

FULL CASE STUDY - ENFULL CASE STUDY - FRALL CASE STUDIES

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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.

Downloads

The publication is available for download here.

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A digital platform to financially include farmers in Côte d’Ivoire

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

On the occasion of World Savings Day 2021, the Scale2Save programme of the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) highlights the work for financial inclusion it does with its partners in Africa.

In the framework of Scale2Save, Advans Cote d'Ivoire, a microfinance institution, has developed a digital platform with the aim of taking down the barriers that small-holder cacao farmers face to access financial services and further develop their economic activities.

The challenge of access to financial services for rural populations

In Côte d’Ivoire financial inclusion remains a major issue as 44% of adults have never used formal or informal financial services.
Among the most affected are the socially disadvantaged and excluded layers of people, in particular women, the poor and those living in rural areas.

It is important to point out that the poor financial education and the cost of financial products are all obstacles to access to financial services.
In 2017, Global Findex data also focus on the unbanked population. Indeed, the 2017 figures show that 8 million adults in Côte d’Ivoire do not have an account at a financial institution. Out of eight million unbanked individuals (59% adults) there are 52% women. The most common form of savings is home savings.

How to change this? The agricultural sector appears to be one of the sectors with great potential for financial inclusion. Indeed, smallholder farmers express the desire to acquire financial products for their households and their activities. However, very few have access to these products. (Source APIF2019 report).

Advans, an international microfinance group present in nine countries including Côte d’Ivoire is a financial player committed to the financial inclusion of producers in rural areas. Our institution works for access to quality financial services, adapted and accessible to all these populations living in rural areas.

Our innovative project, Customer Corner, a digital application

In the framework of the Scale2Save programme, Advans Côte d’Ivoire has developed an application called Customer Corner, assisted by the Senegalese FinTech Obertys. This application is available from our banking agents, a field team dedicated to agricultural producers. Our agents travel to meet agricultural producers. The opening of savings accounts is done by the banking agent from his smartphone. It takes only a few minutes.

This application now allows producers in rural areas to open their savings accounts on the spot, without paying opening fees, and without having to go to our branches. Once the savings account is opened, the producer can carry out transactions with his phone (not necessarily an Android) via a USSD MTN code.

In addition, our field agents assist our producer clients in the management of their savings accounts by visiting them and taking into account all their concerns. The producers are met periodically either individually or within their cooperatives.

By digitalising our financial services, we are faster and more efficient while maintaining the proximity of a genuine customer relationship to better serve producers in rural areas. We believe in the digitalisation of the customer journey coupled with a personalised proximity approach to better raise awareness and give a human face to the offer of financial services.

As a result, small-holder farmers have access to savings accounts, and are supported in their financial education in order to strengthen their financial security in the short, medium and long term. In October 2021, 80,000 producers were registered in our books for more than 300 million FCFA (Franc of the French Community of Africa) saved, equivalent to about 455,000 euros.

The steps ahead

However, we are facing obstacles in this mission which are:

  • Difficulties in identifying producers: many of these people do not have an identity card, some are foreigners and therefore cannot easily obtain a birth certificate without returning to their country of origin. Without ID, it is impossible to open a bank account or even a mobile money account associated with the account.
  • The lack of an “e-kyc” procedure which prevents the provision of a 100% digital customer experience: electronic signatures, for example, are not authorised.
  • The lack of interoperability between the payment systems of telecom operators implying the cost of developing individualised interfaces for the financial institution but also strong limits on use since it is not always possible to have several phones.
  • The strong culture of “cash” in the rural world within all sectors and mistrust of financial institutions due to unfortunate past experiences.

With digital finance, we are pushing back the barriers of distance, income level, and social factors, however regulations and infrastructure must also evolve if we are to truly include rural populations financially.

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TCB digitalizes savings groups to serve low-income women and youth

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

On the occasion of World Savings Day 2021, Tanzania Commercial Bank Plc (TCB), a WSBI member and learning partner of its programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, shared the experience of working with savings groups in rural areas. TCB developed the digital product M-KOBA to address five main challenges savings groups face. Now, TCB is taking M-KOBA further by targeting Village Savings and Loans Associations.

The development of M-KOBA

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

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

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

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

Taking it further

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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