Members of Kenya’s Massai community live hours away from the nearest traditional banks and have little money to pay for travel.
And at traditional banks, customers often find the bank charges so many fees that instead of earning any interest, they may actually lose money. It is a disincentive to save.
So when Maasai have money, they often hide it in their homes, putting it at risk of fire and theft.
World Concern has offered another option: Financial Service Associations, also known as village banks.
The FSAs are wholly owned by the shareholders who have voting rights and ultimate decision-making authority. And they are local, within an easy walk.
The FSAs provide a safe place for savings, small loans (under $65), investment opportunities and other financial services. The community is enabled and required to run the FSA independently.
World Concern provides the technical advice and some of the start-up costs, such as a safe and the first year’s accounting ledgers, which help to make each FSA a viable reality, serving between 500 and 1,000 people.
There are currently four FSAs in operation, located in the villages of Kigumo, Kithimu, Njukiini and Kevote.