The program dubbed ‘Banking on Change’ is providing financial literacy and availability of services to Zambia’s poor. The majority of the population has in the past been excluded from creating savings and financial plans as both resources were unavailable, and those living in rural areas are without means to contribute to them, the Zambia Daily Mail reported.
Samuel Tembom, head of Plan Zambia’s Economic Empowerment Programme says the financial gap will close once credit is made easily available, and when those who don’t use direct banking services are providing with educational resources about finance.
“We were concerned at the financial barriers that prevent the poor from accessing financial services and proving that no one is too poor to save. ‘Banking on Change’ has brought financial inclusion to an otherwise neglected sector,” he told the Zambia Daily Mail.
Barclay’s Bank helped launch the program in 2009. Now, phase two, which entails savings, assets and wealth creation will soon take off. The program ‘Banking for Change’ was initially created to help improve the poor’s quality of life while introducing them to the financial services frequented by the urban community.
“We would like to take on 15,000 youths and a further 7,000 adults to allow them reach the next level. Our country’s huge youth population unfortunately does not have enough savings that could make them achieve their goals, said Barclays Bank Zambia’s managing director, Saviour Chibiya.
The program’s success encouraged Barclays’ £10 million funding — and a three-year extension — commitment, made this year.
Banking for Change’s first phase of financial literacy evolved into a community micro-finance movement impacting more than 12,000 people of which 72 percent were women, the Zambia Daily Mail reported. The program now operates in 11 countries included Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Egypt and Ghana.
“The successes of our economy hinge on private sector participation in empowering neglected low income citizens. Banks should go back to the basics of not only encouraging savings but rewarding customers appropriately. OSAWE is a good financial inclusion conduit,” Michael Gondwe, Bank of Zambia governor told the Daily Mail.
The Zambia Daily Mail also reported that OSAWE and other financial groups geared toward individual savings plans have boosted agribusinesses, loan power and the confidence of the growing members.
“Women in my group are no longer shy; poverty inhibits freedom of speech. We are now very assertive because of loans and financial education,” fish dealer Memory Kunda told the Zambia Daily Mail.
Members of financial groups are encouraged to open Barclays Bank accounts.