According to IFC , only 12 percent of working adults in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to banking services, compared to 22 percent in South Asia and 50 per cent in Latin America and Eastern Europe. In Rwanda only 23 per cent of adults use formal financial services.
The project aims to scale up the provision of low-cost financial services through the development of mobile delivery channels and new products in addition to the banks loan, business training, savings accounts and other services to its over 118,000 customers, four fifths of whom are women and small business owners.
Jeffrey Lee, CEO of UOB confirmed that Rwanda still has millions unbanked and added that the mobile banking solutions and a cost-effective agent network will help reach them and the funding will help the do so.
IFC will help UOB develop an agent network for branchless banking, with staff training and customer education, market research and product development, and in the establishment of a call centre.
David Crush, IFC Manager for Access to Finance Advisory Services in Sub-Saharan Africa said, “Access to finance is a key tool in fighting poverty. UOB has already been able to provide finance for many small-scale entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and hire people, creating jobs and contributing to economic growth in Rwanda. There is scope to do so much more.”
The project is part of the Partnership for Financial Inclusion with The MasterCard Foundation, which aims to scale up microfinance and accelerate the development of mobile financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa to reach a total of 5.3 million previously unbanked customers on the continent by 2017.