Sustainable Financial Access Goals for Kenya – Lessons from 2018 with FSD Kenya

2019 is finally here. Big progress in financial access and inclusion have been made in 2018 and this will likely continue to be a big focus for many startups and organizations in 2019.

The recent report on successful mobile penetration and access in Kenya is proof that much has been achieved in 2018. Despite this progress however, the question of how sustainable these developments and achievements are remains a big question.

For the longest time, sustainable development goals (SDGs) in various industries have been championed by both state and non-state entities. However, none of these have tackled financial access despite this being the driving force for all these other SDGs.

The Kenyan informal sector can teach us a lot about sustainable finance. Some of these lessons can prove invaluable when crafting sustainable finance practices that the formal sector can learn and borrow from.

According to Tamara Cook, Head of Future Digital Innovations, FSD Kenya:

“I think we can be inspired by the informal sector in Kenya. When you look at chamas and how those are used and how those are used differently by different communities, there is a lot of flexibility in there. We would love to see the solutions used in the informal sector mimicked in the formal sector. [..] There is so much we can learn how people use informal finance and how they use formal finance.”

The Kenya government has no doubt made great strides in financial access and inclusion by using both law and putting in place initiatives to encourage this behavior.

According to the Victor Malu, Head of Future Financial Systems, FSD Kenya:

“If you look at various government plans and the acts that they’ve put into place, clearly there is an intent to continue to expand financial inclusion and access.”

“When the government announced its Big Four, financial services and inclusion was not one of those things. But if you look at affordable housing, food security, universal healthcare and manufacturing, finance is absolutely the oil that is going to make these things work.” Says Tamara Cook.

Finance will continue to play a big role as an enabler in other development areas. 2019 will not be any different and will likely be a bigger year in financial access and inclusion in Kenya and the region.