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President Bill Clinton Sees Impact of Banking on Change Program in Tanzania

President Bill Clinton saw first-hand the impact of savings-led microfinance programme ‘Banking on Change’, after visiting a community group taking control of its financial future in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, accompanied by Barclays, Plan UK and CARE International UK, who established and manage the programme.

Barclays made the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action when launching Banking on Change at the CGI Annual Meeting in New York in 2009. The commitment was to improve the quality of life for poor people by enhancing, innovating and accelerating sustained access to savings and other financial services.

Banking on Change is the world’s first savings-led microfinance programme that combines the deep understanding of two leading NGOs with the financial expertise of a global bank to encourage extremely poor people to begin their path to financial inclusion through village savings and loans groups.

President Clinton visited the group, in the Vingunguti ward outside of Dar Es Salaam, and saw how the members of the group have established a culture of saving regularly. Combined with financial and small business training, he heard how many have gone on to establish micro-enterprises.

During the visit, President Clinton said:

“I have been involved in programmes like this for over 30 years, long before I became President and I am very impressed by this one. What you are doing takes far longer to build a fund than if you are given money from outside the group, but this is much better, because it is your fund, that you own because you generate the increase in savings.

“This is the sort of thing that banking should be doing – it’s about real people, taking out real loans, to do real things.

“Thank you to Barclays, Plan and CARE, and to the community for all you are doing. This sends out a great message to Tanzania, and to all of Africa.”.

He met with Zainabu Rashid who is 22 years old and runs her own hair salon in the village. She said:

“Joining the savings group enabled me to save up enough money to rent my own salon. After saving for a while, I was then able to take out a loan from the group so that I could buy my own equipment. I’d always dreamt that I would have my own salon and even my own chain of 2, 3,or 4 and employ other people to work in them. Now I believe that could be possible. I feel that I am now the mistress of my own destiny.”

In just three years the Banking on Change partnership has reached helped more than half a million people on this journey towards financial inclusion. For some groups who have saved regularly, they have been able to access more formal banking, a process known as ‘linkage’.

Barclays Chief of Staff Catharine French, who attended the visit alongside President Clinton, said:

“Banking on Change has already made a huge difference to people’s lives across the developing world, and the challenge now is to scale this up. The success of the programme over the past three years highlights the power of partnering between the private sector and NGOs. This was central to our original commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative. To have this visit by President Clinton gives us the impetus for further collaboration and innovation to give many more people access for the first time to the financial services they need.”

President Clinton also met with the country directors for Banking on Change partners Plan International and CARE in Tanzania.

Jorgen Haldorsen, Plan International Tanzania Country Director said:

The visit by President Clinton and the delegation is a great honour not only to Plan International but also to the communities and children we work with in Tanzania. Through the visit we have been able to showcase the impact that the Banking on Change programme is making to thousands of Tanzanians and their families. This programme has defeated the traditional belief that poor people cannot save and that they cannot be reached by banking services. This important project is ensuring the financial inclusion of thousands of poor people ultimately stimulating the growth of the local economy and contributing to the overall development of the country.”

Paul Daniels, Country Director for CARE in Tanzania said:

“It is wrong that there are 2.5 billion unbanked people around the world when we know that access to basic financial services are essential to finding a lasting route out of poverty. Banking on Change has reached over 513,000 people with financial services, most of them women. This has helped them to become financially independent, establish thriving businesses and have better access to health and education. Importantly, it has also raised self-esteem and confidence and people have taken pride in taking control of their own lives.This visit is a welcome recognition that the issue of financial inclusion requires real global leadership and it will take a joint effort to tackle the inexcusable barriers that keep communities from fulfilling their economic potential.”

The President and Chelsea Clinton are travelling across Africa to visit Clinton Foundation projects in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Africa. This trip, and the projects visited, highlighted many of the issues that President and Chelsea Clinton have long worked on—economic growth and empowerment, equality of opportunity, and health access.

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