Improvement of the socio-economic situation of small farmers and SMEs thanks to access to appropriate financial services

Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are still amongst the poorest countries in Africa. Although tourism is well established in Kenya and Tanzania and also earns a larger and larger share of Uganda's gross domestic product, agriculture is still the most important branch of the economy. 80% of the total population is involved in the agrarian economy. The main approach of the project is to support subsistence farmers and small businesses when they are increasing their business activities and therefore improving their socio-economic situation. With a strong focus on women, the rural population is also motivated to diversify its entrepreneurial activities in order to minimize the risk of loss of earnings. Farmers and small businesses are, on the one hand, dependent on access to suitable finance products to build up and expand their activities. On the other hand, they must be capable of building up a basic knowledge of financial matters (saving and loans), which is something they usually lack entirely.

The Project

The project aims to push the "banking frontier" further down the poverty line thereby increasing access to financial services, through which microenterprises, subsistence farmers and low income households are able to increase their economic activities. The key components of the project goals are:

  • Facilitating access to financial services to support the acquisition of productive assets and other pre-requisites for income generating activities to the aspiring people at the bottom of the pyramid.
  • Supporting financial services providers in enhancing their services to the bottom of the pyramid.
  • Improving the financial literacy of target beneficiaries in order to enable them make informed choices and optimize use of the financial services.

Key interventions include:

  • Facilitating mobilisation, formation and training of Mavuno Saving and Lending Groups as part of the financial solution to the financially excluded segment of the population.
  • Supporting Saving and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) governance and management capacity to effectively and sustainably deliver financial services to their clients.
  • The project has worked with a total of 91 saving and credit cooperatives, seven universities and colleges offering microfinance education, and 347 community-based trainers for groups saving and lending in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.


Project outreach was extended further in 2016: a total 21,682 new beneficiaries gained improved access to financial services in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Overall, between 2013 and 2016, 106,573 people benefited from our programme interventions in those three countries. It is important to note that half of all beneficiaries are women, and this is in line with the programme objectives.

Furthermore, there also were indirect beneficiaries:
⦁    108,700 family members in 2016 and roughly 500,000 family members since 2013;
⦁    638,000 new clients for Equity Bank in 2016 (total bank clients gained since 2013 are 2.5 million).

An assessment conducted in 2016 on our beneficiary groups showed that access to financial services has contributed to significant improvements in their living situation. The money saved or obtained in credit was used primarily for various purchases, school expenses, establishing income-generation activities, or buying food.

In total, during the current project phase, businesses created 10,186 additional jobs (full-time jobs). Thanks to their access to financial services, they were able to either establish or expand their business. We do not trace this achievement exclusively to our project activities, as other economic and political factors affect business activity. The impact evaluations nevertheless show that access to financial services played an important role for 80% of growing companies.

Estimates for the entire phase show that thanks to our programme interventions, 90% of beneficiaries have gained additional income averaging CHF 374 per year. The total amount of additional income generated for all beneficiaries exceeds 48 million Swiss francs.

Project countries

  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

Project duration

2013 - 2016


  • SDC
  • ESPERANZA kooperative Hilfe gegen Armut
  • Kanton Baselland

Working area


Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation
Hardturmstrasse 123
CH-8005 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 454 17 17
Fax +41 44 454 17 97