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Savings and the MFI Portfolio: Bridging the Gap Between the Needs of the Poor and the Capability of the Institution

How can providing savings services ensure the long-term success of MFIs?
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This article explores how MFIs can reach poor savers with products that are accessible, affordable, and secure. It provides findings from a three year partnership between CARD Bank, Philippines and Grameen Foundation that attempted to increase CARD Bank’s capability to provide savings services to its clients. Specifically, the project aimed to enable CARD Bank to provide savings products that met the needs of lower income segments and to fund 100% of CARD Bank’s loan portfolio.The study highlights the need for MFIs to bring together people and technology and build the capacity and infrastructure to grow their savings business. Findings indicate that the likelihood of success increases if the MFI focuses on three themes:

  • Marketing and product design;
  • Developing alternative delivery channels and the technological infrastructure;
  • Transforming from a credit-led to a market-led institution.