A partnership between FINCA and The MasterCard Foundation makes it possible for as many as a half-million marginalized people living in remote areas to create their own safety nets, and save for a better future. Announced in Dar es Salaam, the $12.7 million grant supports efforts to massively scale-up operations through the use of technology, with the potential to reach as many as a half million people in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. President and CEO Rupert Scofield commented, “The advent of new technologies and partnerships like this one have the potential to transform how millions of African women and men gain access to financial services, especially when it comes to savings mobilization.” FINCA Africa’s five subsidiaries serve a client base made up mostly of those living below the poverty level. Our average client is an entrepreneur who is the sole income earner for the family, and supports, on average, between five to seven family members. The majority of income is invested in her family’s wellbeing: housing, nutrition, health and education. Yet for all the 305,000 credit clients and 310,000 savings account holders that FINCA currently reaches in Africa, there are still over 320 million unbanked individuals on the continent that are in need of financial services. In Tanzania, specifically, with a per capita GDP of just $1,500 and 36% of the population living below the poverty line, FINCA and the financial services sector have a great challenge before them, but an even greater opportunity. The majority of low-income populations either are served by informal financial services providers, or have no access to financial services at all. This is particularly true in rural areas. Financial exclusion is primarily a problem of distribution. The distance from bank branches and the high cost of servicing low-balance accounts are key reasons for financial exclusion among the poor in Africa. Technology-based solutions are emerging as the new frontier to address the challenges associated with reaching rural and remote communities, because they can reduce transaction costs for both clients and institutions, while broadening and deepening outreach. With the infusion of $12.7 million over the next 4.5 years, our partnership with The MasterCard Foundation will allow us to deploy some of these alternative service options – such as mobile banking, agent banking, and developing a satellite and low-cost branch network, will significantly enhance FINCA’s ability to increase outreach – particularly into remote and rural regions – and will result in welcoming new clients that live and work farther from FINCA’s branches. It will also allow FINCA to reduce costs and pass these savings on to clients. Having set a goal of reaching 500,000 low-income borrowers and savers by 2015, FINCA’s scale-up in Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia will require the development of a professional cadre of local leaders and managers to keep pace with expansion, the adoption of new technologies, and the design and delivery of new products and services. Thanks to this partnership, FINCA will systematically deliver high quality training and education to FINCA staff, and will share what we learn, as well as materials and approaches we develop, with the wider MF community. FINCA views this as the most efficient way to meet our capacity development needs as we grow, expand our offerings, and transform our operations into full financial service institutions in Africa. The third component of the partnership – and one that we’re particularly excited about – is the roll-out of a systematic approach to measuring social performance that seeks not merely to prove microfinance’s impact, but ensure client protection remains at the forefront of our growth. By embedding social performance in all aspects of our operations, we will be able to dramatically expand outreach in a way that ensures we’re reaching the clients most in need of our services, and in a way that keeps their financial and social progress as a priority. Read the Press Release >>
FINCA’s life-changing microloans and other products and services are now available to the hardworking women and men in Pakistan. Like people other countries in which FINCA works, from Guatemala to Tanzania, Pakistan’s poor struggle on a daily basis to escape poverty. Expansion into Pakistan is important for many reasons. Most important, Pakistan is a huge country, the sixth most populous in the world, with more than 180 million people. The median age is 22 years, and per capita income is a mere $1,372 . More than 60 percent of its citizens live on less than $2 per day, and 22 percent live on less than $1.25 per day . Employment in the informal economy is 74 percent , which is precisely the group to which FINCA aims to provide a hand up through its services. According to FINCA President and CEO Rupert Scofield, another reason for expansion into Pakistan is the belief that a lack of economic opportunity is at the heart of much of the unrest in the world. “By offering financial services to hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis in the coming years, I believe that, with the continuing support of our donors and investors, we can help create an environment that is more conducive to peace in Pakistan, the region and the world,” Scofield remarked.
For just $29, you can make a big difference in the lives of financially-marginalized people throughout FINCA’s network. Beginning June 2nd, you can purchase a beautiful beach towel designed by FINCA Advisory Board member and internationally-acclaimed designer Rebecca Minkoff, and all net proceeds will be donated to FINCA! “I’m an avid supporter of FINCA because I believe in the power of women and entrepreneurship, and how each of us can use our creativity and resources to make real change that will allow all of our children to live in a more peaceful and welcoming world,” Rebecca says. “This is just one way we can work together to support women less fortunate than ourselves, and have a bit of fun, at the same time!” An added plus is that this beautifully designed towel will not only set you apart from everyone else at the beach or pool this summer, it also gives you an opportunity to tell people why you support FINCA’s life-changing work. The Designer Beach Towel Fundraising event is sponsored by One Kings Lane, a leading online destination that offers shoppers a fresh collection of select home goods, and designer and vintage items. To purchase your towel here >>
FINCA Tanzania has become the first microfinance institution in the country to transform from a non-regulated organization to an entity regulated by the Bank of Tanzania. This change in status will make it possible for even more Tanzanians living in rural areas access to formalized banking services. According to Chief Executive Officer Tom Kocsis, 77,000 very low-income clients already have access to FINCA’s credit products. This new designation will allow the Subsidiary to branch out to new and under-served areas with additional banking services. “With our new status as a formal financial institution, we’ll be able to reach even more people in rural areas who don’t traditionally have access to banking services,” said Tom. “And what’s most exciting is that we’ll be able to offer savings products, which is an effective way for low-income people to create their own safety nets. In this way, they can guard against emergencies and invest in their futures.” FINCA Tanzania currently operates 25 branches country wide, and is looking to further expand financial inclusion services to more Tanzanians by integrating mobile technology into the company’s operations, which will improve access to services and improve efficiency. “We already execute more than 30,000 repayment transactions each month using mobile money technology, and are excited to further develop alternative delivery channels to extend services to other areas, and make banking more accessible and affordable,” he added.
To support FINCA Canada’s Make A Stand Against Poverty campaign, several Canadian artists have lent their talents to raise funds for FINCA microfinance clients.In response to appeals they’d received in their mailboxes, Prince George, British Columbia, artist Maureen Faulkner joined artists and craftspeople from across Canada celebrating Canada’s Cultural Days. Maureen asked everyone who visited her studio for a cash donation with the intent that she and her husband would match it. They raised enough money to fund four, $50 loans. She thanked contributors by sending them a set of FINCA’s photo notecards.Ottawa sculptors and painters Mitchell Webster and Janet McKay decided they’d host a fine art show, and contribute a portion of proceeds from the sales of their Bronze and stone sculptures and oil paintings to FINCA.And earlier in the year, FINCA Canada Board Member Jacquie Green helped raise funds for the Make A Stand campaign by hosting a market stall at FINCA Canada’s annual fundraising event, during which she sold her amazing miniature paintings.