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KPMG was appointed the Fund Manager in for the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural prosperity in 2014 and set off with an aim of enabling 1 million people in rural Africa to have access to savings, credit and insurance products and services.  The Fund operated from Nairobi, Kenya and had a team working from Ghana who assisted in overseeing projects in West Africa. 

During this time, it has been an absolute pleasure working with different partners with different skillsets that enabled us to work with 38 participants implementing projects in 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The different engagements required frequent site visits and meetings to monitor and evolve better ways of achieving the target impact. 

While the implementing environment was not always favourable to the teams involved, the Fund has managed to reach over 5 million people against an initial target of 1 million. To achieve this, several challenges were faced which the team had to work through. These included:

  • Changing business regulations: The Fund worked with its participants whenever different governments changed regulations and policies that affected the projects by either adjusting the project business models and for one project, even changing focus country. While several such interventions were a success, this was not always the case.

  • Change in business models: In instances where a business model required it, the Fund worked with participants to evolve it, agree the milestones and the Key Performance Indicators.

  • Business changes: There were cases where businesses went through internal transitions such as acquisitions or separation from key project staff. One of the key activities the Fund undertook was capacity building in different areas such as on Fund reporting requirements to ensure consistency.

  • Political changes: In many focus countries where our projects have been based, there have been changes in the leadership of the country through general elections. However, the coup in Mali, West Africa adversely affected projects there due to the various sanctions imposed. Some of these sanctions placed restrictions and as such, the Fund had a difficult time making necessary disbursements. 

  • Covid 19 Pandemic: The pandemic presented a significant challenge. Participant supply chains were broken and some participants struggled to sustain their work force and market access. In addition, some project activities such as physical trainings to customers could not be conducted. The Fund advanced further financial support to 12 participants in a special recovery and resilience window to assist in mitigating these adverse effects threatening financial inclusion gains made. Many participants were very innovative and introduced new ways of doing business such as offering their trainings online, or launching e-commerce platforms. It was very encouraging seeing participant staff retain their jobs at a time when many companies globally were laying people off theirs.

During the life of the projects, the Fund was involved in various activities that were critical in the overall success of the programme such as:

  • Training and learning workshops: The Fund held induction workshops afters participants are selected for support. The workshops were held to help the participants better understand the Fund and how it operates. The Fund also periodically conducted other learning workshops where participant experiences were gathered. Such workshops were either conducted in person or virtually depending on the suitability at the time holding the event. 

  • Site visits: Over time, the Fund team conducted site visits to all participants in the 15 countries to really understand what they were achieving, and to evaluate if the financial support provided was being utilised as required. The visits also gave Fund team members a country context and so we were able to understand the highs and lows experienced in a real sense.  The Fund focus is on rural areas and as such, team members got to experience remote and difficult to reach locations, and experienced first-hand the difficulties being faced by participants to reach financially excluded people in these regions.

Managing a fund of such a magnitude has proved a significant challenge requiring concerted efforts by all involved. These collaborations have paid off handsomely in the financial inclusion numbers impacted. 

wilson.png Wilson Irungu,


 KPMG East Africa






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