In 2016, FSD Kenya was making headway in terms of its financial inclusion objectives. But there remained a population which was deeply excluded the extreme poor- especially women.
In the face of this challenge, FSD Kenya worked with partners to pilot a market-led approach to support this group and improve women’s economic empowerment.
This built on the success of past ‘financial graduation’ approaches, as well as on FSD Kenya’s previous work to improve financial access in Northern Kenya through safety-net payments and savings groups.
There have been many positive impacts such as:
• Group members are now able to invest and generate income through business, save, buy assets and send their children to school. These women have achieved status and importance in their households and the community.
• In the face of shocks, such as locusts, COVID-19 and drought, group members have proved themselves more resilient than those who did not participate in the pilot. They now provide informal safety nets for the wider community.
Though many challenges were faced, and will, no doubt, continue to emerge, the pilot has shown that a market-led approach, built on cash transfers and focusing on the development of collectives, capabilities and linkages can lead to financial and economic inclusion that is real and enduring.
There is enormous potential to scale up these ideas to support other communities receiving cash transfers.