Scale2Save case study: FCMB 'Easy Club' digitally enabled platform.
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BRUSSELS, 20 July 2020 – The FCMB Group, headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, is a full-service banking group offering retail banking, corporate & commercial banking, treasury & financial markets and investment banking services.
Founded in 1977 with the vision to be the premier financial services group of African origin, one part of of its key business strategy revolves around improving financial inclusion in the small- and medium- sized enterprise sector by using digital platforms and operating systems. They also look to bank the unbanked, agricultural small-holder farmers and female-owned businesses.
As part of its strategy, FCMB developed Easy Club, an innovative signature product aimed at empowering 150,000 farmers by providing knowledge, support and connection to buyers and suppliers in order to increase their productivity, improve their income and growing their savings. This will in turn lead to more resilient livelihoods for the participating farmers. It builds an ecosystem designed to make small holders thrive.
A digitally enabled platform, Easy Club is delivered through agent networks in targeted locations. Agents onboard the farmers, educate them on how to use it and support them with the adoption of all the digital tools provided. The access point to Easy Club is via the Easy account which is a FCMB mobile wallet. The platform has four key components:
1. Capacity building and trainings for farmers: Increase their knowledge of current technologies and farming processes. These services include a peer-group forum for participants to connect and exchange with each other and to provide feedback and ask questions. It also includes linkages to model farms that are outlets offering farm equipment like tractors, trailers and harvesters.
2. Financial services provided by FCMB: Includes savings, credit, cash in cash out and payment services.
3. Market place. An online portal where farmers can connect with produce buyers and suppliers of inputs.
4. Strategic partnerships: with aggregators, input support (seeds, fertilizer), tractor hire services, among others.
Feedback so far: positive
While still in its early stage the Easy Club has been receiving positive response from farmers and agents.
Farmers appreciate the easiness of opening the Easy account at the agent locations within their communities. The account opening requires minimal documentation which contributes to the simplicity of accessing the account and the Easy Club platform. Farmers also receive a debit card upon opening the account which is a unique offering and also serves as identification for farmers.
FCMB plans to further invest in infrastructure in order to register 4.5 million farmers on the Easy Club platform by 2025 FCMB plans to further invest in infrastructure in order to register 4.5 million farmers on the Easy Club platform by 2025 and to extend 40% of the services to USSD to encourage remote self service by farmers.
Building up resilience in West Africa
Low-income customers, especially women and rural populations, find themselves disproportionately vulnerable to shocks such as natural disasters and violence. They are also the least prepared to recover when a shock occurs given their limited access to and availability of risk mitigating strategies and tools. Many remain underserved, despite evidence showing that well-designed financial products and services can play a critical role in increasing low-income families’ resilience.
The FCMB case study comes from a learning brief that showcases a range of well-designed financial products, services and engagement strategies that help increase low-income families’ resilience in countries like Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria. Many low-income customers across these countries suffer from the inability to cover costs for unexpected expenditures and are unable to invest to ensure crops are climate resilient, though rely on the crops proceeds. In rural areas of Cote d’Ivoire farmers are often not prepared to cover large expenditures such as school fees as their cash flow are irregular and affected by weather patterns.
The financial services providers featured in this brief, published by Itad, give case studies provided by Scale2Save and Savings at the Frontier initiatives funded by the MasterCard Foundation. The cases studies explore approach product development and delivery with the need for building customer resilience as a key consideration.