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Banking on Change: transforming lives in poor communities

Barclays logoToday, more than 2 billion people in the developing world are considered “financially excluded”. This means they do not have access to basic financial services, such as savings, bank accounts or credit.


Today, more than 2.5 billion people in the developing world are considered “financially excluded”. This means they do not have access to basic financial services, such as savings, bank accounts or credit. Access to even the most basic financial services can help households increase and manage their incomes, helping to lift people out of poverty and providing them with access to the financial infrastructure they both want and deserve.

Between 2009 and 2015, Plan worked with Barclays and CARE International as part of the award-winning Banking on Change partnership. The partnership brought together the independent expertise of each organisation with the aim of breaking the barriers to financial inclusion and to improve the quality of life in the poorest communities, by giving people the skills to save and manage their money effectively. 

From 2012, the Banking on Change partnership focused on the additional barriers faced by young people. At a time when financial exclusion and youth unemployment are two major issues for the developing world, this generation deserves the opportunity to develop the skills they need to manage their own resources, with products and services that meet their needs. The programme was run in seven countries: Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

During their six years working together, the partnership successfully extended basic financial access to over 758,000 people, including over 250,000 young people to whom we delivered youth-friendly financial, enterprise and employability skills trainings.

Banking on Change has compiled its learnings and experience of working with young people, along with feedback from a consultation conducted with peer NGO’s, and the findings from a piece of independent primary research conducted by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) into a Youth Savings Group Model to create a practitioner’s guide for setting up Youth Savings Groups. This is intended to encourage more NGOs, policy makers and funders to incorporate young people into their programmes.

Banking on Change evidence proves that working with young people is an effective investment and we believe a global effort is needed to give more young people the skills, networks and access to finance to secure their future. We hope the Youth Savings Group Model will enable more organisations to reach young people more efficiently.

Banking on Change youth banks

Banking on Change has also developed the “Linking for Change Savings Charter” a set of international principles that enable organisations to effectively and responsibly link informal groups of savings to formal banking products and services. Furthermore, Banking on Change commissioned the State of Linkage report, a global mapping of linkage activity between savings groups and formal financial institutions around the world.

Tanya Barron, Plan UK's CEO, says: “Financial inclusion matters. We need to ensure that the 2.5 billion people who lack access to trusted formal financial services are no longer isolated and forgotten. Our pioneering partnership with Barclays and CARE International UK, Banking on Change, has demonstrated that the world’s poorest communities can be given the opportunity and skills to save successfully”.

Florence with her sewing machine. Photo: Banking on Change / Jon Spaull

Florence's story

One young woman to benefit from the programme is Florence, 23, a member of a savings group in her home village of Bebiniha, Ghana. She joined the group to help grow her dressmaking business.

Her family’s main source of income is her parent’s farm, which grows cassava, maize and pineapple, but the extra money Florence makes from selling her designs means that she can save and plan for the future.

She often works from 6am in the morning to 8pm at night, both on the farm and on her dressmaking. “I want my business to grow and expand. I hope that after this year, if I am able to make enough money, I can have my own shop,” she says.

“I want the best future for my children so that’s why I want to put all the effort into making ends meet now.”

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