Transforming Financial Inclusion in Rural Kenya

»» Imagine not having access to a bank account. Imagine being excluded from formal banking services completely. For millions of rural Kenyans, and others living in Africa’s remote regions, this has been the case for years. People have been hiding money under mattresses, in tins buried in the ground outside their homes, and in all manner of places to secure their cash and savings.

For the past few years, branchless banking has been changing the status quo and empowering the rural poor. Financial inclusion and banking for the unbanked is giving people security, financial confidence, leverage to save and a powerful mechanism to transform their lives.

Equity Bank has led the field by training independent agents and using their existing business outlets in rural areas to offer easy, convenient services to customers, many of whom have never had a bank account in their lives. It’s a cost-effective partnership that allows services to be offered without the expense of opening up new branches.

Equity asked INGENICO, a global leader in seamless payments, to created robust, simple banking handsets and bespoke technology to make these life-changing services available. The results have been extraordinary with growing numbers of people now banked and enjoying the dignity and benefits of being part of the formal financial system in an easy to use high-tech way.

Our intrepid IT’S AFRICA’S TIME crew travelled to Gakindu in rural Kenya to witness this for ourselves. We share the story through the experiences of Francis, an Equity Bank Agent, and two of his clients: Patrick, the local wedding photographer, and Josephine, an airtime saleswoman with big dreams for the future.