Fema’s Financial Inclusion Strategic Partnerships works with other business units and governmental, nongovernmental, foundations and international development agencies to develop programs and products that weave in the social aspect of Fema's Financial Inclusion agenda to tell a compelling story of how business meets effective social interventions.
We currently work with CARE International's Access Africa programme on a project funded by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to link Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) in the three northern regions of Benin to the bank. We have also partnered with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on a National Financial Capacity drive.
We are keen to partner with organizations that believe in the power of financial inclusion as a key tool of poverty alleviation. We believe in aggregating persons at the base of the pyramid (BOP) and providing them with comprehensive, tailored, life-improving products that use financial services and products as a base to solve other pertinent challenges such as education, energy, health, microenterprise growth and water and sanitation. Our key focus areas are savings groups, youth and income generation, women and health, agriculture and rural finance.
Revolutionizing Rural Finance with CARE International
In 1991, CARE pioneered the Village Savings and Loans methodology (VSLA) in Niger. To date, CARE is the largest nongovernmental organization providing microfinance services in Africa, reaching approximately 4 million people through the VSLA methodology across 26 countries.
CARE Benin, under the organization’s Access Africa program, has formed over two thousand VSLAs reaching over 43,000 people across Benin, each comprising an average of 25 persons. In early 2014 through theUnited Nations Capital Development Bank (UNCDF), Fema Bank and CARE Benin in partnership were awarded 2 million USD to implement the MicroLead Expansion (MLE) Program. Through this program, CARE will support Fema Bank in developing new savings products that can be offered to the VSLAs, form and train new VSLAs and build the capacity of existing VSLAs so that they can be link to Fema Bank, finally creating an avenue for savings groups’ and its members to be engaged in Benin’s formal financial economy.
Fema will be providing savings groups with group and individual savingsaccounts and setting up a network of Smart Agents in rural northern Benin communities where banking services normally do not reach. Consequently, many more Beninians, particularly in the rural areas, will have access to the formal banking sector and will be able to build solid credit histories for access to various other financial services including insurance and pensions.
The project is set to directly impact an estimated 72,500 persons in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions of Benin with potential to reach many tens of thousands more in the communities that these VSLAs are located and in other parts of Benin where Fema has agents.
Driving Financial Capability in Benin with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
70% of Beninians are outside the formal financial sector, and bringing them in will have to happen with adequate financial education. Simply providing the products and services will be almost futile as people need to understand the wealth of services and products available to them, their use, their benefits and precautionary measures.
Under a €500,000 co-funded project under its Development Partnerships with the Private Sector (DPP) program in Africa, GIZ has partnered with Fema to develop and deploy appropriate print and audiovisual material on savings, microinsurance, loans and investments, targeted at the unbanked and underbanked. GIZ and Fema are also developing a novel trainer of trainees (TOT) program for Fema Smart Agents, to fill the gap in financial information dissemination that normally occurs with agent network systems. This is to ensure that consumers understand and know how to effectively use products and services offered to them in the fast expanding financial services industry in Benin.
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