This is the titel of a two-day conference I am attending. The partnership was launched on May 7, 2012 with the objective to “project will create new opportunities for economically disadvantaged people to expand businesses, gain access to cost-effective financial services, and manage risk.”
Via this US 37.4 million, 5-year partnership, the IFC and the Mastercard Foundation will help greenfield microfinance institutions in Africa to rapidly increase their outreach, develop new products, and create new delivery channels.
The Mastercard Foundation was looking to join forces with the IFC due to their existing partnerships with a number of greenfield institutions, and their large experience and footprint in Africa (300 staff and 19 offices).
And what am I doing here? I sm currently working for a consulting consortium which will look at the business cases of using alternative delivery channels (ADCs) to more rapidly increase outreach to more customers in a more cost-effective way. We will accompany 6 institutions in 6 markets below for the next three years and see if these ADCs can actually hold their promise.
And it is quite a challenging exercise. The two partner organisations have committed to the following indicators to be reached after the partnership:
– Bringing financial services to 5.3 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
– Developing sustainable microfinance business models to deliver large-scale low-cost banking services.
– Helping to accelerate the development of mobile financial services.
– Sharing lessons learnt in Sub-Saharan Africa with the rest of the world.
As you might know, I have been working on “banking agents” when I was still at CGAP. Evidently we knew a lot less about all the operational challenges around such an ADC (or banking agent network), however, today, even 6 years later, we still have not completely figured out the full business case around implementing such a network of cash-in/cash-out points effectively and efficiently. This is our challenge for the next three years and I am very excited to be part of it!