Case study

Rural Finance Outreach in Central Malawi: Implications for Opportunity International Bank of Malawi

Evaluating rural finance outreach strategies in Malawi
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This study assesses the outreach of the mobile bank run by the Opportunity International Bank of Malawi (OIBM) in central Malawi. It used data gathered from a panel of 2,006 households by the IRIS Center at the University of Maryland in 2008 and 2010.The study provides positive findings on the efforts of OIBM to bring the bank closer to the rural population, offer services with better terms and conditions, and provide adequate information on its services. Findings include:
  • Breadth of outreach of OIBM increased in rural Malawi within a short period of its entry into the competitive financial landscape where many financial institutions offered similar products and services;
  • OIBM attracted more female borrowers compared to other formal institutions;
  • It was able to service its depositors at lower transaction costs due to reduction in direct costs of travel;
  • Uptake of OIBM'’s services among the poor and those living far from the mobile bank stops was modest.
The paper concludes that in order to sustain its current outreach and grow further, OIBM needs to combine its first mover advantage with continual improvements in its products, services, delivery mechanisms and information dissemination methods.