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Financial Sector Deepening Zambia (FSDZ) is a DFID-funded programme established in September 2013 with the sole mandate of increasing financial inclusion in Zambia. FSDZ utilises the Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) approach to partner with financial service providers that are able and willing to increase the number of households and enterprises accessing financial services. FSDZ’s overall strategy is to take the role of a facilitator that promotes enduring and sustainable change in the financial market system. MEDA, as a subcontractor, is providing consulting services for the digital financial services area of focus, working closing with two partners, Zoona Zambia, a digital payments service provider, and AB Bank Zambia, a commercial bank, helping to facilitate the expansion of financial services using the mobile money channel and agent network.
Jennifer Ferreri, Senior Project Manager/Consultant, wrote this blog on her work in Zambia and some lessons learned from Zoona's Aggregator Model experience.
One of the world’s most under-utilized resources is the land, labor and skills of the rural poor. And yet, more than a billion people live at the margins of survival on less than $1 per day, three quarters of them in rural areas. A similar share of the world’s population suffers from malnutrition. Where isthe disconnect?
Despite their resourcefulness and resilience, the rural poor most often lack access to markets, capital and knowledge that they need in order to make their land and labor truly productive. This booklet outlines what MEDA has done about this, and our experience that we are eager to share with others who truly care about the plight of the rural poor.
Most of these opportunities for the rural poor do not begin with access to capital. Access to a new market, improved crops, or better technologies are usually at the forefront. However, all too often these opportunities do not reach fruition because no one is willing to invest in rural finance. Today, the majority of microfinance providers still focus on urban areas.
It is our hope that this booklet will begin to change that reality – opening new possibilities for rural and agricultural finance – so the rural poor can realize their true potential.
Pushing the frontiers of micro- and small-enterprise interventions to rural areas is the current focus of many organizations. These kinds of projects are attracting theattention of donors and practitioners alike. In the microfinance field, innovations are being tested and replicated to increase the access of rural clients to financialservices on a sustainable basis. In the enterprise development/business development services (BDS) field, new approaches for facilitating market opportunities andlinkages for rural enterprises and farmers in weak markets are beginning to emerge.
This round of PLP grants responds to the growing interest in reaching rural markets from both a microfinance and enterprise development perspective. By drawing lessons and expertise from these two technical areas, the strategic alliance project will explore different methods for facilitating financing for rural farmers and microentrepreneurs in order to upgrade in different value chains for rural products.
The principal issue that the project will address is whether strategic alliances and partnerships between rural financial institutions, market development facilitators, service providers, value-chain actors and micro and small enterprises (MSEs) can increase access to financial services in rural areas. By facilitating such access, this PLP ultimately seeks to explore and document models that assist MSEs to take advantage of potential market opportunities to upgrade the value chains in which they operate.
The seven projects funded by PLP grants can be categorized into two groups. The first group is comprised of financial institutions that will form strategic allianceswith a service provider or value-chain actor(s). As a result of these alliances, the financial institution will directly provide financial services to rural MSEs and farmers. In some cases, the strategic alliance will enable a value-chain actor to provide better or improved financial services through established business relationships.
The second group of projects is comprised of market development facilitators that will assist other actors to improve rural access to financial services. In some cases, these facilitators will work with rural financial institutions and value-chain actors to jointly develop suitable financial products that can leverage the value chain of local rural products. In other projects, they will work to stimulate a service market that supports financial institutions in a commercial manner.
The organizing principle behind the learning framework for this project was to have the participants jointly identify the steps needed to facilitate rural access to financing. These steps are categorized into four project milestones: market assessment; selecting partners and structuring strategic alliances; implementing solutions; and exit strategy and replication. These milestones will serve as the basis for peer learning and guide the participants in documenting lessons and findings throughout the project.
The main purpose of this paper is to articulate the learning framework for the PLP project in greater detail. This project creates a space for practitioners to meet and share their knowledge. Using tested knowledge sharing and learning tools, it will begin to answer questions that are relevant to practitioners and the broader industries of microfinance and small and microenterprise development. By addressing the challenge of enhancing the access of rural farmers and microentrepreneurs to financial services, the project hopes to identify effective, replicable practices and innovations for upgrading the value chains of rural products. Equally important, the project also seeks to identify practitioner approaches that require adjustment, as well as mistakes that should be avoided in practice.