Barclays has underlined its commitment to financial inclusion, helping 4,000 Kenyans join the formal banking system.
The beneficiaries currently participate in the Banking on Change community investment programme, where they started their journey to financial inclusion by forming groups – or ‘chamas’ as they are known locally – to pool their savings and make small loans available to fellow members.
The loans enable members to take part in income-generating economic activities and improve their financial circumstances. Funds are later returned with an interest kept by the group.
As part of the second phase of Banking on Change, 4,000 people in the provinces of Nyanza and Eastern will now access formal banking services by depositing their savings into a Barclays Uwezo account.
The account offers free cash and cheque deposits, free chequebooks, preferential exchange rates on transactions, and expert advice from the bank’s relationship managers.
In addition, the group will now be able to deposit their savings in a secure place where there is little risk of cash being lost, damaged or stolen.
Abdi Mohammed, Consumer Banking Director, Barclays Kenya, said: “With the Uwezo account, the groups will also earn interest that is calculated on a daily balance and paid out cumulatively on a monthly basis, meaning that their financial base will continue growing.”
Barclays Banking on Change initiative is run in partnership with the charities CARE and Plan International.
Richard Otieno, Plan International’s Programme Manager for the Nyanza Region, said Banking on Change has been a big success: “Women are beginning to invest and expand their business.
“There are many chamas who are at the level of graduation and ready to be linked to opportunities such as the ones provided by the Uwezo account being launched by Barclays Kenya.”
Richard added that Plan is committed to extending the approach developed by Banking on Change across the 12 eastern and southern African countries they operate in.
Since the start of this year, the number of Banking on Change chamas in Kenya has increased by more than 50 per cent to 2,740 groups, with 49,000 people benefiting from the programme.
The participating groups have saved a cumulative total of more than KES20m (approximately £124,000), making over KES28m in loans available to help members develop their businesses and support their families.
The Banking on Change programme aims to improve the quality of life for poor people by extending access to basic financial services and developing their business skills so that they can save today for a more sustainable future.