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Alastair meets Sarah, one of the beneficiaries of Banking on Change.

Alastair meets Sarah, one of the beneficiaries of Banking on Change. Photo credit: Jon Spaull/Banking on Change

UK newscaster Alastair Stewart has visited a Barclays Banking on Change project in Uganda.

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Barclays has outlined in its 2015 Citizenship Plan that it is committed to increasing access to the financial system, creating commercially viable solutions to address social challenges, and empowering the next generation with the skills they need to achieve economic independence and security.

Banking on Change – a partnership between Barclays and the charities Plan UK and CARE International UK – extends and develops access to basic financial services for disadvantaged people around the world by focusing on savings-led microfinance.

Alastair – who is also a CARE ambassador – travelled to the town of Iganga in the eastern part of the country this month, where he visited a village savings and loans association (VSLA) set up as part of the community investment programme.

Members of the VSLA started by saving small sums of money. As their savings accumulated, they were able to borrow small amounts at a reasonable rate of interest, as agreed by the group.

Watch a video

In a video, Alastair explains how Banking on Change is helping to advance the issue of financial inclusion, and how Barclays branches are directly supporting the local community through dedicated bank accounts.

The film (pop-up) shows how VSLA members are offered training and guidance by business experts to help them make full use of their loans.

Hasan – one of the VSLA members featured – has been able to set up and run a successful mobile phone shop, build a new home and put himself through university, thanks to his participation in Banking on Change.

Sarah, another VSLA member who features in the video, started an income-generating activity thanks to the support of Banking on Change: buying a fridge to sell cold drinks in her village.

The film also explains how linking with formal banking systems to access financial products is enabling VSLAs to be sustainable and self-sufficient, with independent consultants affirming that groups linked with banks tend to save more.

An overdraft product launched recently by Barclays is also enabling groups that have an existing savings account with the bank to access flexible credit when they need to.

Roundtable discussion

Following his visit to Uganda, Alastair chaired a roundtable discussion with senior representatives from the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development, law firm Clifford Chance, the UK’s Cherie Blair Foundation, as well as Barclays Banking on Change partners Plan UK and CARE International UK.

The discussion explored ways in which financial services companies, non-governmental organisations and savings-led microfinance programmes can collaborate closely to make real progress in financial inclusion.

At the event, participants learned more about how Banking on Change is proving that it is possible for a global financial institution to reach the poorest people with formal financial services.

Barclays has outlined in its 2015 Citizenship Plan that it is committed to increasing access to the financial system, creating commercially viable solutions to address social challenges, and empowering the next generation with the skills they need to achieve economic independence and security.

 

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