From savings groups to bank accounts: how do we get to the next level? 1

From savings groups to bank accounts: how do we get to the next level?

Financial inclusion has risen up the worldwide development schedule over the last decade for a good cause. In sub-Saharan Africa, 3 quarters of adults do no longer have access to a bank account, significantly proscribing their potential to save, make investments and plan for their future. Still, banks have struggled to discover a commercial enterprise model that justifies the high transaction expenses of reaching those maximum in want.

We established the village savings and loans affiliation (VSLA) version in Niger in 1991 to cater to the people the banks had been not imparting for, and now more than 20 years later, there are eight million members of VSLAs in Africa by myself.

But while those casual agencies can act as an essential first step toward financial inclusion, they are no longer a panacea. As corporations mature, many are seeking the safety of a bank account to keep their growing savings or desire for larger loans than the organization can offer.
We now want to attend to their new wishes and how we can stick with a financial savings-led approach inside the rush to link them to formal monetary institutions.

To reply to these demands, we’ve got mounted partnerships with the monetary and telecoms sectors to combine our one-of-a-kind styles of knowledge with exploring models connecting savings groups with formal economic services.
From savings groups to bank accounts: how do we get to the next level? 2
We know mobile money can make formal institutions more reachable to far off VSLA groups as transactions costs are decrease and there’s no want to go to a bodily department. We’ve labored with Telenor and Easypaisa in Pakistan to permit branchless banking for women via a ‘cellular wallet’ and Vodacom and M-Pesa in Tanzania to allow financial savings agencies to apply M-Pesa money owed to store their excess funds.

But in Kenya, from our partnership with Orange and fairness bank, we’ve made specific changes to the way a proper organization account works that VSLA individuals might be in a position to relate to from their informal financial savings practices, making the transition to formal banking for them less difficult. With the financial institution and the cellphone network, we advanced a protection verification device that requires 3 VSLA contributors to provide non-public identification numbers for each transaction; the electronic equivalent of the 3-padlock VSLA metal lockbox that forestalls someone man or woman from having access to the institution’s cash. That is a breakthrough, the first gadget that allows organizations the same kind of comfortable cell access.

For NGOs, this is an instance wherein enticing with the enterprise network in this area means we can have a more impact. Since 2009, we’ve additionally been working with Plan and Barclays on Banking on change. That is a collaborative mission to graduate even extra communities from VSLAs to formal monetary institutions. We see increasingly corporations that have stored for numerous cycles effectively now suffering from an excessive amount of cash of their financial savings box to be taken into consideration safe.


Our answer was 4 banking products that permit financial savings and loans agencies to open accounts with Barclays in 5 nations in Africa. In Uganda and Kenya, this indicates presenting agencies low-fee financial savings debts without a minimum deposit.

Over 2 four hundred mature organizations (about sixty-two,500 humans) have now opened money owed. The preliminary effects of linking these financial savings organizations to banks advise that savings, according to members, will increase with the aid of between 40-one hundred% after a group has been related. thirteen% of group members have additionally moved onto establishing man or woman money owed. That is of social and developmental significance, however greater notably of interest to any bank wondering whether it’s worth targeting VSLA groups from a commercial enterprise point of view.


I am a writer, financial consultant, husband, father, and avid surfer. I am also a long-time entrepreneur, investor, and trader. For almost two decades, I have worked in the financial sector, and now I focus on making money through investing in stock trading.