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Evaluating project for affordable, inclusive financial products

Provision of inclusive, affordable, and high-quality financial products remains a key developmental goal for developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Access Microfinance Holding AG (AccessHolding), a private company incorporated in Germany, operates an international network of eight network financial institutions (NFIs) with six of these in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). AccessHolding and the Mastercard Foundation entered into a partnership to launch the Access2Access programme that runs from 2016 to 2022.

The A2A programme is aimed at strengthening the capacities of the NFIs in Liberia, Zambia and Rwanda to efficiently and profitably reach a wider share of their target market segments and achieve a wider geographical spread of customers.

The programme has two components: digitalisation to improve NFIs internal efficiency, and capacity building to improve employees’ efficiency and attitudes to work, based on a holistic approach to people development. Ultimately, low- and middle-income businesses and households in urban and rural areas will have increased access to and use responsible financial services.

Genesis was appointed by AccessHolding to conduct a mid-term evaluation of the A2A programme to understand its performance and outcomes till the mid-point of the programme, in order to document key learnings arising from implementation, and to identify areas for improvement.

The evaluation team used a three-pronged approach that included rigorous document review and analysis, analysis of existing financial and operational data, and the incorporation of head office and NFI staff, and external stakeholders’ thoughts about key questions of interest in digitalisation and capacity building. Existing data was also complemented by a survey of NFI staff, designed to understand their experience engaging with the two components of the A2A programme.

We rigorously analysed the quantitative and qualitative data, which revealed positive progress towards achievement of digitalisation targets for NFI IT architecture that supports the bank operations. Findings on capacity building revealed the need for deeper engagement with the staff in banks with lower completion rates, to understand the socio-economic and political contexts, and how these can affect staff morale and attitudes towards learning.

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