Barclays Launches Microfinance Partnership

Apr 2010
Nairobi, Kenya, April, 09 2010 - Barclays and international development organisations CARE International (CARE) and Plan, Friday launched Banking on Change in Kenya, a unique and pioneering microfinance initiative aiming to reach half a million people in ten countries across the world.

The three organisations have joined together in a three-year, £10 million (Ksh1.2 billion)  initiative, called Banking on Change, which is aimed at reaching over 500,000 people in ten countries across Africa, Asia and South America.

The partnership's focus is on improving the quality of life for poor people by extending and developing access to basic financial services via a savings-led community approach.

In Kenya the partnership is working to provide access to basic financial services for over 100,000 people in seven districts in Eastern and Nyanza provinces.

The project will predominantly be based on the Group Savings and Loans model (GS&L), a savings-led community finance initiative whereby individuals in a community join together in groups to save regularly and access small loans from a group fund.

The Barclays Regional Managing Director East and West Africa, Adan Mohamed said: "Over the course of three years, the project here in Kenya will seek to create over 4,000 GS&L groups in the seven districts. In so doing we are aiming to increase financial literacy, improve the quality of life and enhance household income."

Mohamed continued: "Our aim is to create a sustainable solution to the issue of financial exclusion. Around three billion people worldwide seek access to basic financial services which are essential to managing their lives.

As a global financial services business we have an important role to play in supporting access to banking services which can help people to help themselves out of poverty.

Barclays can do a great deal by developing microfinance products, but we also recognise the value of partnering with expert organisations like CARE and Plan to broaden our reach."

In bringing together the skills and experience of each of the three organisations, the Banking on Change partnership is unique both in its pioneering cross-sectoral partnership model and in its focus on improving community finance methodology and innovation to drive scalability, sustainability and cost effectiveness.

Helene D. Gayle, President and CEO of CARE International, said: "I am delighted to be here for the launch of the Kenya project.

Despite progress in reducing poverty in the developing world over recent decades, too many families still lack necessities such as food, water and healthcare.

Dr. Gayle added: ‘'Access to even the most basic financial services can help households increase their incomes and reduce their vulnerability to emergencies such as illness and natural disaster. More specifically, successful microfinance projects generate an improved quality of life for people, enabling them to buy basic necessities and capital items, access health and education services, and invest in income generating activities."

John Morris, Country Director, Plan Kenya added: "Community-based financial services tailored to the needs of poor and vulnerable households are already having a measurable impact in reducing poverty and improving general wellbeing and empowerment, particularly when offered to women."

"Ensuring access to education for girls is one of the key fronts in the war against poverty and microfinance can play a big part in that. More than 90 per cent of people engaged in microfinance projects are women, and on the whole they are much more likely to plough their savings back into their families than men. With more money to spend, they can afford to keep their daughters in school, giving them the life chances they never had themselves and an opportunity to move up the social ladder," said Mr. Morris.


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