November 18, 2010
Kimberly Davies is a Program Associate for the Microsavings Initiative, which is part of Grameen Foundation’s Solutions for the Poorest program. This is part two of Kim’s blog series. If you haven’t yet, we recommend you read part one of her blog post series.
Based in the Philippines, CARD Bank is a close partner of Grameen Foundation that truly works to empower women, as the majority of their staff is even family members of past borrowers.
My visit came at a great time: Not only was I able to see interviews for new savings associates under a new interactive recruitment process, but market research about the financial education program also began.
It’s incredible to see how many moving parts our microsavings project has, and how many tasks and deadlines our project managers and leadership teams need to juggle. Timing is tight; we have a lot to accomplish in just three short years, which made me fully realize how complicated our holistic approach to this project is. Though CARD began offering savings several years ago, they did not see the uptake that they originally expected. Now, our project involves subject-matter experts in seven areas working with the MFI to create a savings product that truly matches clients’ needs.
Not only is the right savings product important, but also the accessibility of that product. Often poor women that live in rural areas need to travel extremely far distances on a regular basis, many times by foot, to access traditional savings at banks. Not only is this inconvenient and exhausting, but involves time away from their business and thus a loss of potential earnings, which they often cannot afford.
To address this challenge, we are working to help our partners bring needed services closer to clients, which will make saving accounts more accessible, convenient, and more likely to be used. Some delivery channels we are currently looking at are:
- Mobile-phone texting hubs so savings officers can be alerted when clients have deposits ready for pick-up
- Pilot ATMs to cut down on bank wait time
- A way to integrate new applications to mobile phone-based money transfers, also known as “mobile money”
The Microsavings team and Grameen Foundation Technology Center’s innovative work in these areas should help save clients valuable time, which in turn will enable them to more easily deposit smaller quantities more frequently while spending less time away from their businesses.