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Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa > Advisory Services  > Access to Finance  > Partnership for Financial Inclusion 

2014 Annual Event

Our Partners

MasterCard FoundationAustrian Development Bank


Bringing financial services to 5.3 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa


In the Democratic Republic of Congo, microfinance bank FINCA is breaking new ground in the supply of formal financial services to the poor by employing an innovative agent banking business model and biometric technology. 


Imagine not having a bank account. You have nowhere to put your savings away safely, so you stack them in your mattress where they slowly lose value. Imagine not having a debit card or a check book. You have no other way of transacting money than in cash, so you carry your rent money in your pocket afraid you will be robbed on the way to the landlord. Imagine not having a credit card. Even if you are just a little short of cash at the end of the month, you have no means of buying food or a school uniform for your child. Imagine not having access to bank loans. The sewing machine that could transform your clothes making business and multiply your income remains just a dream. Imagine not having insurance. If disaster strikes, your house or your harvest is easily gone in a fire or swept away by flooding. At best you might be able to ask friends and family for help. If they live far away, this could in itself be a costly and time consuming exercise. At worst, you have to go see the local loan shark.

This is the reality for the majority in Sub-Saharan Africa, where less than 20 per cent of adults have access to formal or semi-formal financial services. IFC and The MasterCard Foundation believe that increasing access to financial services is a key tool in poverty alleviation that could dramatically change the lives of the economically marginalized. In January 2012 the two launched the $37.4 million Partnership for Financial Inclusion to bring financial services to an estimated 5.3 million previously unbanked people in Sub-Saharan Africa in five years. In partnership with The Development Bank of Austria, the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs and other donor and knowledge partners, the program helps to develop sustainable microfinance business models that can deliver large-scale low-cost banking services. The program also provides technical assistance to mobile network operators, banks and payments systems providers in order to accelerate the development of low-cost mobile financial services.




  • Bringing financial services to 5.3 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Developing sustainable microfinance business models to deliver large-scale low-cost banking services.
  • Helping to accelerate the development of mobile financial services.
  • Sharing lessons learnt in Sub-Saharan Africa with the rest of the world.


“This initiative is part of a much, much larger story. It’s the story of political, economic and social transformation happening around the Sub-Saharan continent.” 

- Reeta Roy, president and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation, at the Johannesburg launch of the Partnership for Financial Inclusion.


For more details on the different parts of the program, please visit our pages on Microfinance, Mobile Financial Services and Knowledge & Learning.

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