In recent years, stakeholders have increasingly acknowledged that formal financial institutions are not always able to address the financial service needs of the very poor, particularly those living in remote areas. Small transaction sizes, sparse populations and poor infrastructure limit the ability of commercial banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) to reach rural areas where many of the world’s poorest and most marginalised populations live.
Poor women and men need access to small amounts of savings and credit to help smooth incomes, meet predictable expenses and better cope with emergencies. Quick and convenient access to accumulated savings or a small amount of credit to pay school fees, for example, can enable a farmer to defer pre-selling the harvest or postpone selling to a time when prices are higher, often resulting in substantially increased incomes. With more stability in their cash flow, people can make better choices around health, education and nutrition, and as well, invest in income generating activities.