Designing a rural micro-savings program as a service embedded in existing operations of a social enterprise

Duration: 1 month

location: Africa

Clients: MBA Without Borders, Gone Rural, Deloitte Consulting


Formal microfinance programs require existing trusted relationships (to serve as a built-in credit bureau) and a certain density in population to have the volumes of loans needed to be self-sustaining.  Swaziland has a population of only a little over a million people in a 17k square kilometres area (the size of the state of Massachusetts). This low population density means that formal microfinance programs are nearly non-existent in the country.



Gone Rural is a social enterprise that employs rural Swazi women artisans to make export quality handicrafts.  They employ 770 women each who support an additional 5-10 family members because of the HIV/AIDS crises. Because of the lack of microfinance programs in the country, their artisans were left largely unbanked. They had no access to a safe place to keep their earnings nor access to credit.



We designed a micro-savings program to bring financial services to the women artisans living in these rural areas by integrating a savings mechanism into regular Gone Rural business operations.  This work involved conducting focus group interviews with artisans, understanding the operations and trading activities between the artisans and Gone Rural.