Friday, March 30, 2012

Kiva Scholar: Creative loan products for people living in poverty

We value being in tune with the latest news on microfinance and poverty alleviation. Kiva Scholar is designed to share research and developments in the field, and open the conversation up to you!

Deciding when to spend and when to save money is a difficult choice for most people. But imagine living hand-to-mouth and an emergency arises, or your child wants to get married. How do you fill the financial gap with extremely limited resources?

This week, we bring you an article from CGAP about a product that is working to make funds available quickly when needed and protect against incurring too much debt.

Income for the poor is generally unstable and unpredictable, which makes the decision of what to spend and what to save even more difficult. Credit can help balance this cycle out by providing more financial regularity, but sometimes credit can be difficult to obtain and carries its own cost.

SafeSave in Bangladesh is currently piloting an innovative credit and savings product, P9, that allows clients to borrow money when they need it (interest free!) and simultaneously safeguards from over-indebtedness through facilitation of savings. Clients are able to borrow a small amount (about $60 USD), 40% of which immediately goes into a saving account in their name, and then use the remaining amount for whatever they need.

Payments are very flexible and clients have the option to re-up when they need to borrow more. However, with each new loan, more money is transferred to their savings account preventing over-indebtedness. As they pay off each amount, they build credit and can graduate to larger loans amounts, eventually gaining access to more amounts of money, but always with large mandatory savings.

Products like P9 and M-Pesa are changing the way financial institutions look at poor clients -- increasing financial access to millions of people around the world.

Read the article and let us know what you think at