New Zambia Dashboard Integrates Financial Access with Agriculture, Education and Health Care

Audrey Linthorst|Jul, 2016

On its FINclusion Lab platform, MIX recently launched the updated Zambia Workbook, an interactive dashboard that explores access to financial services for underserved communities through data visualizations. With the support of UNCDF, as well as data collection efforts from FSD Zambia, the workbook marks a ‘first’ for the country; it is the first ever comprehensive dataset that covers location information for financial, agriculture, education, and health care access points. The FINclusion Lab platform overlays this extensive data alongside local infrastructure (highways, waterways, and railroads), population information (density and demographic breakdowns), and select indicators from the most recent FinScope survey, which provides a holistic view into how individuals manage the financial aspects of their lives. This extensive and detailed mapping highlights key opportunities for financial service providers (FSPs) and related organizations to reach underserved communities.

                                      

By exploring the Zambia Workbook, actionable insights can be easily uncovered. For example, over half of all active financial access points in the country operate in the informal sector, indicating that much of the population are excluded from the formal financial sector where greater product options exist. This could indicate that savings groups and member-based organizations may better suit the needs of certain segments of the population or that these types of financial organizations may be more trusted than commercial banks or mobile money operators. Banks and other FSPs have an opportunity to determine whether gaps in trustworthiness exist or if basic products meet the needs of many underserved clients. Nearly half of all FinScope respondents indicated they still rely on family and friends to help them manage their money, revealing an opportunity for FSPs to provide financial tools and helpful resources.

There is also a rapidly growing market for the types of services and ease of transactions made available through mobile money agents. After savings groups and member-based organizations, mobile money agents are the most common type of financial provider in Zambia. Yet, the geographic footprint of each of these three organization types varies greatly. Savings groups are the most prevalent provider type in the Central Province while member-based organizations lead in the Southern Province, which is also the province with the greatest number of agricultural points. Mobile money agents are the most common provider type in the urban provinces of Lusaka and Copperbelt, likely due to greater mobile coverage in those areas.

            SAVINGS GROUPS                               MEMBER-BASED ORGS                     MOBILE MONEY AGENTS

                                      

While there are access points in all provinces across the country, a closer look shows many gaps.  Every Province in Zambia has more than one District in which there are multiple Wards with zero access points.  Even Lusaka – which despite being the smallest Province has the greatest number of access points – has 17 Wards without a single financial access point!

                                                                                             

Exploring the footprint of other industries alongside the financial sector in this geolocator tool can help inform expansion strategies for existing financial service providers, and highlight opportunities for partnerships.  Agriculture, healthcare, and education all necessitate financial services; being able to identify gaps in financial services in areas where other industries are active can support informed strategic decision-making. 

The image above shows part of Western Province, highlighting two areas with a lot of agricultural activity (circled on left) and education (circled on right), but a lack of financial services. At agricultural markets, people need money to purchase fruits and vegetables; at processing plants employers need methods to pay their employees; and schools require tuition payments from parents. Areas with lots of agricultural, commercial and education access points offer opportunities for digital financial services to step in and fill gaps.

Partnerships between financial service providers and actors in other industries could be a great avenue for expanding financial inclusion, particularly in the very rural areas of Zambia.  When thinking about where to set up a financial access point, whether it be an agent, a brick and mortar branch, or an informal savings group, one must identify where the demand is. The geolocator tool displays access points across multiple industries and can help identify the demand in areas down to the specific latitude/longitude point. With the Zambia Workbook, you can dig into which institution types are most prevalent in certain regions, identify segments of the population who are underserved, and uncover strategic opportunities to expand service offerings.