Finca strikes deal to reach rural poor

Finca Tanzania and MasterCard Foundation yesterday launched a partnership to increase access to financial services for customers.

The project will create new opportunities for economically disadvantaged people to expand businesses, gain access to cost-effective financial services and manage risk.

“The partnership will provide us with the means to expand our footprint and product offerings, especially in rural areas, bringing an even wider range of financial services to those who have been excluded and reaching a greater scale in addressing poverty,” said Mr Mike Gama-Lobo, vice president and regional director Finca International. 

According to him, the partnership will bring $12.7 million over the next four and a half years and provide Finca with the means to massively scale up operations to reach marginalised populations in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania. 

Mr Gama-Lobo stated that with the injection of the capital more than 500,000 low-income traders would be provided with access to savings services through improved distribution channels and increases in the number of service points.

Finca Tanzania CEO Tom Kocsis noted that was a milestone for the Tanzanian banking sector and was an important step towards helping Finca to reach the rural poor.

According to him, for all the 305,000 credit clients and 310,000 savings account holders that Finca currently reaches in Africa, over 320 million unbanked individuals are still on the continent.

He singled out Tanzania which has per capital GDP of $1,500 and 36 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, saying Finca and other financial institutions have a great challenge to reach people who need financial services.

According to him, the partnership with MasterCard Foundation will allow them to deploy some of the alternative service options such as mobile banking, agent banking, and developing a satellite and low-cost branch network.

Finca says after scaling up operations in Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia it will require the development of a professional cadre of local managers to keep pace with expansion, the adoption of new technologies and the delivery of new products.
Source: The Citizen, reported by Victor Karega in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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