Case Study

Pafupi Savings: Expanding Financial Inclusion to Rural Women

Designing savings products to meet the needs of Malawian women

In 2012, NBS Bank in Malawi found itself at a critical junction as a new management team came on board and faced a range of challenges, from deteriorating loan quality to outdated IT systems to currency devaluation. That same year, the bank piloted agency banking, the first of its kind in Malawi, and received support from MicroLead to develop Pafupi Savings, roll it out nationally, and reach unbanked women in rural areas. While the market potential was undeniable, was this the right time for the bank to bet on the unbanked?

This case study explores the introduction of the tailored savings account designed to expand access for low-income and unbanked people in rural areas, especially women. It aims to answer the following questions: 

  • How are unbanked rural women currently saving?
  • What motivated them to save in different ways, for example, in the informal savings groups that were becoming more common in Malawi?
  • What would they expect from a bank like NBS Bank?
  • What kind of rural women should NBS Bank be thinking about serving?

About this Publication

By McDonald, J., Rios, A., Saho, R., Nchembe, E., Ntandaza, N & Chigoga, M.