A dedicated 31-page supplement was published in the UK's Guardian newspaper at the weekend to mark the third anniversary of the Katine project in Uganda, the community partnership between Barclays, the Guardian newspaper, and AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation).
The 'Story of Katine' explores the key issues tackled during the three-year partnership - improving community healthcare, access to quality education, safe water, hygiene and sanitation, and increased income-generating opportunities.
Told as a history of the project, the supplement features personal stories and academic analysis, providing a summary of its achievements on the ground.
Since the project began in 2007, Barclays has donated £1.5m and provided its expertise in promoting financial education in the region. It has developed a sustainable model for rural banking that is delivering genuine community and business benefits.
Writing in the supplement, Group Chairman Marcus Agius looked back at some of notable achievements and reflected on his personal experiences: "The Katine project has helped Barclays to identify innovative ways to provide disadvantaged, remote communities with access to financial services.
"Having been to Katine and experienced the project first hand, I have closely followed progress ever since, and seen the strides taken in generating income and wealth by giving people the ability to save their hard-earned money.
"The project is progressing well with real social outputs being delivered."
At the heart of the Barclays-led community finance schemes are the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs).
These specially trained Barclays-backed groups enable the community to save tiny amounts of cash each week, and then to obtain loans to pay for income-generating activities and receive interest on secured loans. Over 125 VSLAs have been established in Katine.
To date, the groups have accumulated the equivalent of £22,482 in savings, enabling group members to buy medication, pay for hospital fees and purchase livestock such as cows, bulls, goats and chickens. In addition, Barclays is providing tailor-made accounts to enable the VSLAs to deposit their money into the bank to improve the security of their funds, thereby linking them to the formal financial system for the first time.
The model developed at Katine led to the Banking on Change project supported by Barclays, extending the use of VSLAs across 11 countries, in partnership with the charities CARE and Plan.
Pictured above is Selina, a member of a VSLA. When the photograph was taken, Selina had just given birth at the hospital in Soroti and her baby in the picture was just a few days old. All of Selina's seven children are in school, as she can afford to buy them uniforms with the loan she borrowed from the association.
She has also been able to grow 15 acres of drought-resistant cassava (a type of root vegetable) so that she has enough food for her family and is able to sell her surplus at the local market. The profit she makes, she then saves with the VSLA. Selina says her life has been transformed by the money she has been able to save and borrow. Katine residents say she is known to be one of the most successful members of the VSLA.
In September this year, the Katine project was also featured as a case study in a report produced by the Global Institute for Human Rights and Business and Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
The document was championed by Mary Robinson, Chair of the Business Leaders' Initiative on Human Rights of which Barclays is a former member. The inclusion of the Katine project as a case study recognises its achievement as a sustainable development project improving the lives of this community.
Katine will also be the focus of the Guardian's Global Development Seminar, supported by Barclays, which takes place today in London. Will Derban, Head of Community Development for Barclays Africa will be sharing his own insights as part of an invited panel of expert guests at the event.
In partnership with the Guardian Media Group and AMREF, the Katine project in Eastern Uganda is a major socio-economic sustainability project providing improved water, sanitation and hygiene practices, improved health and education services, and sustainable economic development in the region. As well as donating £1.5m, Barclays is drawing on its business expertise to promote financial education and developing a sustainable model for rural banking that will deliver genuine community and business benefits. The village savings and loans methodology has informed the development of Banking on Change.
About Banking on Change
Barclays, CARE and Plan have come together to deliver a three-year, £10 million programme aimed at improving the lives of 500,000 disadvantaged people by developing and extending access to basic banking services. Running in 11 countries across Africa, Asia and South America, the partnership is creating and developing savings and loans groups self-managed by members of the local community.