Barclays to Provide Financial Services to Poor Communities

Lorin Kavanaugh-Ulku

March 16, 2011

New York and LondonAround 60,000 people in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda will soon have access to financial services through Barclays’ commitment to the Business Call to Action (BCtA) ―a global initiative aimed at supporting the private sector’s efforts to fight poverty.

Barclays’ pledge is part of the bank’s three-year, £10 million Banking on Change initiative, which seeks to improve the quality of life for poor people by extending and developing access to basic financial services in 11 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America, working in partnership with CARE International and Plan International.

“Extending access to banking and financial services within low-income communities allows poor people to manage their money more efficiently and effectively and creates new opportunities for inclusive economic growth,” said Natalie Africa, Programme Manager of the Business Call to Action. “In Africa, where up to 80 percent of the population is under or un-banked, this initiative has the potential to overcome some of the most significant barriers to financial inclusion and sustainable development.”

Through Banking on Change, Barclays, CARE International and Plan International are supporting financial inclusion of low-income communities primarily through Village Savings and Loan Associations, and by providing low-income communities with advice and training on how to manage their accounts.

Members pool savings into an interest-bearing fund from which they can then borrow. They also vote on how many loans are disbursed, their amounts and their repayment dates. The associations, which average 10 to 30 members, are located in areas not typically serviced by banks.

Through the BCtA commitment, Barclays will support around 60,000 low-income customers in the associations to graduate to the formal financial sector by providing special banking accounts customised to fit the specific needs of these groups.

By helping these groups to put their savings in additional interest-bearing, no-minimum deposit accounts, Barclays is making the process of saving money safer and more efficient for qualifying associations.

Association members can be assured that their savings are kept in a secure place and detailed transaction information helps them keep better track of account history. Furthermore, Barclays provides customers with specialised support in account management.

“For Barclays, the Banking on Change initiative isn’t just a philanthropic exercise —it has real commercial and business value,” said Chen Wong, Banking on Change Programme Manager for Barclays. “Through this commitment to the Business Call to Action, we will work with CARE and Plan to develop a robust microfinance model which is capable of being scaled up and rolled out across different countries. This initiative will help pave the way for formal financial services in the future.”

Launched in September 2008, the Banking on Change programme has formed 5,000 Village Savings and Loan Associations across 11 countries and enabled 99,629 people to have access to savings-led community financial services.

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For further information, please contact:

Barclays: Chen Wong, ch*******@ba******.com, Tel: +44 20 711 61782

BCtA: Lorin Kavanaugh-Ulku, lo******************@un************.org, Tel: +1 703-587-3219


About Barclays, CARE International UK and Plan International:
Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail and commercial banking, with an extensive international presence in Europe, the USA, Africa and Asia. Investing in the community is an important part of Barclays sustainability strategy, for more information visit…

About the Business Call to Action (BCtA):

The Business Call to Action is a global initiative that seeks to challenge companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for development impact along with commercial success. The initiative is the result of a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Global Compact, the Governments of Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, the Clinton Global Initiative and the International Business Leaders Forum, to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

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One Response


    Dear Mr. Wong:
    Our conversation today included the Millennium Development Goals first item of Poverty and Hunger relief.
    This project below needs Community level microfinance of the collective participants.  This project had the
    people gain weight because of eating more and had a cash increase from market sales that nearly doubled
    their income from this single small project.  Their daily income went from $1.25 to $2.35 each.  That added
    income could be the resource for the microfinance loans.
    Additionally, we are going to add the feedstock growing for market demand of Bioenergy and Biofuels.  This
    is being done by early adopters, but may not be inclusive of the poor as is arguably important as labor is needed, or partners are needed.  In a community level joint venture with partners that enable the activity, we
    can create the greatest good for the greatest number of people.  We can see the poor gain an income and
    anticipate that they will have greater demands for good and services.  The can improve Global Trade and
    programs like Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) support certain projects.  In other cases, we look for
    the orchard trees to provide a sequestering of CO2 for decades and a harvested product such as Fruit, Nuts
    and Oil Seeds.
    The Regional Sustainable Energy Center of Excellence is a Type Two Partnership framework.  The Governments, Non profit and For profit businesses developed a common action plan with support where it is
    appropriate.  This approach was suggested by then Chairman of the UN at the World Summit on Sustainable
    Development (WSSD) in 2002 in South Africa’s international meeting.  We have been guided by the Energy
    Commission of Nigeria (ECN) a government policy making body with five university R&D centers that is
    supportive of the Center of Excellence and can be applied to the project support efforts.  USAID Global
    Development Partnership indicated a possible matching of funds to the Center of Excellence projects.
    International interactions are on-going.  Conceptual support for Regional Centers of Excellence is a policy
    of the UN DESA and a brief of that is attached in the file.
    Best regard,
    Sidney Clouston
    Clouston Energy Research, LLC
    10003 Allen Pointe Drive
    Allen Park, MI 48146 USA
    Skype: cloustonenergy
    Mobile 503-320-9136



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