Equity Bank efforts to enhance financial inclusion amongst the refugee population has been cited in a study conducted by IFC dubbed “Kakuma as a Marketplace” to drive economic empowerment by tapping into the opportunities at the expansive Kakuma refugee camp.
Driven by its agency business model and mobile money platforms, the bank has been an enabler for entrepreneurs in the region to access formal financial services. Through Equitel, the community can access mobile loans once they open an account and issued with a sim card. The Bank is also working with development agencies and NGOs to disburse funding to select beneficiaries.
The study shows that access to basic financial services is critical to personal financial security within the host and refugee communities. The demand for the financial services at the camp is high and is likely to grow due to the surge of business activities in the area.
The study also identified key challenges that the private sector engagements can address through in refugee settings to promote self-reliance and socio-economic integration between refugees and host communities, thus empowering them. It further states that attracting new private investors could provide long-term solutions for refugees by supporting local businesses and thus increasing work opportunities.
The Bank has been key to address some of those gaps by offering financial literacy programmes, especially on educating the locals’ basic economic concepts to gain an understanding of how to use a range of financial services – such as savings, bookkeeping and credit products. Hence formalizing banking at the camp.
According to the study, the business model at Kakuma has been profitable and as a result, the Bank is interested in expanding its activities and grow footprint in the region. The demand for financial services at the camp is also on the rise and many residents with small business could benefit from the banking services.