It is hard to believe it has been more than a year since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Kenya, forcing us to make many unanticipated adjustments about the way we worked.
Most significantly, we had to shift to remote working. One year down the line, I am immensely proud of our team for staying the course so far and maintaining our momentum despite the disruption of COVID-19.
This week is financial inclusion week, a good moment to take stock of the multibillion dollar ‘fortune at the bottom of the pyramid’ that has been so successfully reaped by the financial inclusion industry.
The inability of low-income households to access quality healthcare is a major challenge in dealing with unanticipated shocks. The challenge is bigger for rural households. Small rural pharmacies stock almost entirely generic medicines because these are the products that patients can afford.
Starting with microcredit in the late 1980s, there has been a growing movement of multilateral institutions, private foundations, non-profits, corporations and governments that aims to provide formal financial services to low-income market segments around the world.
Kenya has been feted around the world for its achievements in advancing financial inclusion. And the speed at which access to the formal financial system has advanced has certainly been exceptional. The development of a near ubiquitous mobile phone-based payments system provided the foundations for a further round of fintech innovation.
Since the launch of M-Shwari in 2012, the number of digital lenders and loans disbursed has grown substantially. Advances in credit scoring, few regulatory barriers and the widespread use of mobile phones and mobile money have enabled growth of the digital lending industry, giving borrowers a quick and convenient option for credit.
Natasha is a young woman who has a cake baking business on the outskirts of Nairobi. She has a bank account for her business which she uses intensively. Natasha’s business was doing well and she needed a loan to expand.
On the 5th of September 2019, the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Kenya and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), held a stakeholder validation workshop in Nairobi, where they presented the findings of a research study that identified seven key financially underserved segments of the Kenyan population and discussed the potentially viable business cases and policy implications that financial market players could tap into.
In April 2019, the 2019 FinAccess Household Survey revealed that Kenya had made extraordinary strides in financial inclusion. While FinAccess 2019 shows that financial inclusion has peaked at 83% among Kenyans, its findings also evoke poignant questions.
Kenya aims to become a middle-income country by 2030, delivering a high quality of life to all. Finance plays a central role in our economy, facilitating trade and underpinning the efficient pooling and allocation of resources and risk.
The rise of a new dawn in Kenya’s payments system
Eleven years after mobile money started in Kenya, a new dawn is rising – that of open and interoperable systems. Just as you can call people on any network in Kenya seamlessly, you can now send money across mobile money networks seamlessly.
FSD Kenya has been working since 2005 to promote financial inclusion in Kenya. Kenya has made huge strides during this time with over 75% of the population having access to a formal account.
This is the third blog in a series about Financial Service Associations (FSAs) and their potential for growth and customer value creation based on an FSD Kenya commissioned survey by BFA. Read the first blog here: Financial services associations: an imperfect solution and the second blog here: FSA asset financing: when paying more yields more.
This is the second blog in a series about Financial Service Associations (FSAs) and their potential for growth and customer value creation based on an FSD Kenya commissioned survey by BFA. The survey took place in 2017 in Bamba, Kakeani and Mukuyuni and involved in-depth interviews with over 60 respondents including customers, their non-member neighbours and FSA staff.
FSD Kenya commissioned Oxford Policy Management (OPM) to conduct an in-depth impact assessment of their savings groups programmes which were undertaken in collaboration with two international non-governmental organisations, CARE and Catholic Relief Services (CRS).