WSBI leads programme to increase access to banking services in Africa

Jun 24, 2011

The Financial Services for the Poor initiative from the World Saving Banks Institute aims to double the number of savings accounts among the poor.

A total of $20 million (€14 million) has been invested by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation in this three-year project, which was launched in January 2010.

Schemes that members of the WSBI are implementing as part of this programme include the modernisation of IT systems, the development of non-banking agent networks and the creation or restructuring of specific products for the poor, Sara Tironi, PR Director at the Institute, told Les Afriques newspaper.

Several African countries are being targeted, including South Africa, where the South African Post Office will replace cash payments for social services by automatic transfers on low-cost bank accounts.

In Kenya, the project is operated in partnership with Kenya Postal Savings Banks Office. At the end of the programme, the bank should have 1.5 million additional customers, with one million classified as poor.

In Morocco, the operator Poste Maroc plans to market its basic savings account and pre-paid card product more explicitly to the rural and peri-urban population.