Access to Finance

Access to Finance

Providing the first step towards financial security.

Providing the first step towards financial security.

Our approach to financial services

With other AKDN agencies providing microfinance, commercial and retail banking and insurance services, the Foundation completes the chain by providing financial services at the community level, often in rural and remote settings. It does this through the formation of community based savings groups.

Savings groups are a safe method for people to provide financial services to themselves, and one that is generally much less expensive per person reached than other approaches. Savings groups often serve people who would not otherwise have access to a safe way to save, or a convenient place to borrow.

More general information about the Foundation’s savings groups programmes can be found here.

CASE STUDY: A first step towards financial security
Community based savings groups in Bihar, India

Challenge: Bihar – India’s poorest and most marginalised province

Over half of the world’s population has no access to formal banking and so financial inclusion is still a huge issue. In Bihar, India’s poorest state, less than half of the population can read or write and the per-capita income is one-third of the Indian average. To put this into perspective, per capita income in Bihar is approximately 31,000 rupees. That’s £310 a year. Or 85 pence a day.

Response: Community-led saving and borrowing

In recognition of the need for a safe place to save, in 2010, AKF introduced community-based savings groups (CBSGs) in Bihar. A CBSG is a voluntary group of 15 to 25 people who save together and take small loans from those savings. It provides community members with a safe place to save and access credit on flexible terms to meet investment, consumption and emergency needs. In this way, it provides a first step towards greater financial security. AKF’s role is to train the groups to manage their transactions independently. It does not provide any external capital.

Key achievements: Greater financial security and opportunity

By 2013, more than 39,000 members had joined over 2,000 AKF community savings groups, 90% of whom were women. With an average saving of £29, the large majority of members tend to use savings to pay their children’s education fees, health costs, improve their home, purchase clothes for household members, cover travel fees and finance their retirement.

More information on the Bihar programme can be found here.

“The attitude towards work has changed. The women are coming out for work, they are working in lands, they are taking a step towards animal husbandry. Last three years, it was not like that but now they are paying more attention… gradually moving towards [having a] job.” – CBSG member, Bihar


A savings group meeting is underway.

An overview of our CBSG programme

Over the last 20 years the Foundation has rolled out its CBSG programme into 11 countries serving 1,000s of communities and hundreds of thousands of members. This video takes a look at our global programme.

A study into this programme is available here.