Have you ever heard of M-dorado? The all-digital heaven, where digital financial service (DFS) transform - improve- people’s lives, make it easier and more affordable to do business, enhance transparency and defy corruption and bad governance. Without jumping the gun, you can say Africa is well on its way to M-dorado. Take Kenya: in 2015, over 15 million M-Pesa mobile money accounts were active and over 58% of the country’s adult population used a digital wallet.
Avez-vous déjà entendu parler de M-dorado ? Le paradis du tout-numérique, ou les services financiers digitaux transforment – améliorent – le quotidien des populations, permettent de faire des affaires plus facilement et à moindre coût, imposent la transparence au grand dam de la corruption et de la mauvaise gouvernance. Sans aller vite en besogne, on peut dire que l’Afrique est en -bon- chemin pour M-dorado.
The workshop "Savings Groups: More Than Financial Services" co-organized by UNCDF in partnership with the SEEP Network and Financial Services Deepening Africa (FSD Africa), Freedom from Hunger and UK Aid was held on Thursday 16 February 2017 at Azalai Beach Hotel in Cotonou. The event was officially launched by the Honorable Adidjatou Mathys, Minister of Labor, Public Service and Social Affairs in charge of Microfinance. The workshop’s objective was to discuss the role of savings groups in the economic and social development at the grassroots level in Benin.
In theory, a consumer in Benin has a number of different choices when it comes to formal, regulated financial services. He or she can opt for a mobile money account, currently offered by two main providers, that gives them access to their money through their phone, as well as a financial services agent. A more traditional bank account is also an option and typically utilized for savings or loans. And, consumers can use a microfinance institution (MFI), or other non-bank financial institutions which tend to be popular in Benin.
In recent years, Benin has seen steady growth in supply and demand of financial services. Mobile network operators have joined banks, microfinance institutions, traditional saving clubs, and other established financial providers to offer a broad range of financial products.
In Benin’s hard-to-reach Northern “last mile,” the UN Capital Development Fund’s Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility (LoCAL) programme works in three different areas. In its selection process, the programme tries to pick communes in accordance to their need for climate change adaptation. This is why the commune of Copargo is one of them.
Agent Network Accelerator (ANA) Project
- Four year research project in eleven major markets –Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Bangladeshand Pakistan. Expanded to Zambia, Senegal and Benin
- Designed to help the world’s leading providers overcome the cost and complexity of building sustainable cash-in/cash-out (CICO) networks across a broad geography
Toucountouna est une commune nichée au nord du Bénin. Elle est si éloignée des côtes qu’il faut presque un jour entier de voiture pour y parvenir, en passant par des chemins cahoteux et truffés de nids-de-poule. Le fait est que plus on monte vers le nord et moins on trouve de routes goudronnées. Cela pose un problème majeur lors de la saison des pluies, propice à de nombreuses inondations.
With only three e-money providers, including two that received their licence in late 2013, digital financial services (DFS) in Benin are limited both in terms of providers (ASMAB, Moov, MTN) and products (cash-in/cash-out, airtime top-ups, person-to-person transfers). Agent networks are largely proprietary and there is no interoperability. Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO) issued new and better regulatory instructions for e-money issuers in May 2015 that address some of the gaps in the 2006 instructions.
In Benin, MicroLead partners Freedom from Hunger, ALIDE (an MFI) and FadeC (an NGO) are experimenting with the investment/return balance for linking savings groups. What is the bare minimum that financial service providers (FSPs) must invest to create and maintain a successful linkage? And specifically, do savings groups need formal financial education to succeed? Or might a media campaign explaining the process suffice?