Browse by Theme: Financial Inclusion

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has just held its Annual Meeting in London, and I was lucky enough to participate in a panel discussion on their recently published Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2016-2020. A key focus of the discussion was how EBRD can best work with civil society organisations towards achievement of the strategy. There are many points to welcome in the strategy – but also many challenges to be faced...

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Opportunities exist in Tanzania to scale up access to financial services for unbanked groups. The National Forum on Linking Informal Savings Groups to Formal Finance, held last month, revealed the depth in which organisations are supporting this market segment to develop.

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In Tanzania a group has gathered to purchase shares, grow their savings, access loans and do their book-keeping. Regular financial sector activities, but with a difference. These are the activities of the Tushikamane Paris group – an informal savings group of 24 women and 6 men from the hinterland of Zanzibar, Tanzania. Many from this community live on the poverty line, although some manage to make a little extra cash through selling surplus vegetables, crafts or making and selling snacks, amongst other small-scale enterprises. Despite having very limited funds, members of the Tushikamane Paris group manage to grow their savings every week, without fail.

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A recent IMF ‘staff paper’ (i.e. this is not the official view of the organisation, but they’re not disagreeing with it either...) provides additional support to CARE’s fight for financial inclusion by showing that four of the dimensions of financial development – access, depth, efficiency and stability – can significantly reduce income inequality and poverty.

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Banks have clear needs for support in bringing more people living in poverty into the formal financial sector, but the banks could push forward by working more cooperatively with one another in key areas.

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As outlined in my previous blog, with so many people in all three countries preferring informal saving methods to banking, how large are these markets? How much total capital do they possess? And what can we learn from this?

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As mentioned in my previous blog about savings groups in Tanzania, there are massive amounts of capital circulating informally in East Africa. CARE has pointed out time and time again that serving this market is a social and economic win-win for providers and clients, but the persisting geographic, educational and affordability challenges continue to deter providers from making a long-term investment in the lowest-income market. Could an analysis of the size of the market opportunity help to change their minds?

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