Since inception through to the end of 2019, the Fund has committed over US $40 million to 38 projects in 15 Sub-Saharan African countries. This support has enabled the development of over 146 financial solutions including savings, credit, insurance and transaction services used by over 3.2 million people (far exceeding an internal target of 1 million people at the Fund onset) to improve their livelihoods.
The committed funds have successfully leveraged US $97 million from participants themselves to have a further transformative effect on financial inclusion. This means that for every dollar disbursed by the Fund, an additional US $2.54 has been leveraged. So far, over 2.2 million people have received some form of capacity building support participants, and 2,600 direct jobs have been created within the portfolio.
In 2019 alone, there was significant growth in numbers of rural customers reached (1,892,731), financial products and services launched (48), beneficiaries of capacity building (+1.6 million) and direct jobs created (1,235) across the portfolio. These numbers indicate the maturing of the portfolio, where individual participant interventions are beginning to yield results.
As segments of the new customers in 2019, just over a third (587,486) were female, and nearly half a million (486,633) young people were reached. More details on this and which participants contribute most to these numbers are in the report. These insights now support further upcoming learning themes by the Fund such as the impact of Fund-supported interventions on women.
Scaling is an important success metric in the portfolio based on number of customers reached and the pace of customer acquisition, as tracked over 4 years of collecting portfolio data. It has also become particularly crucial in the evolving context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact report provides insight into how customer numbers have grown over time, which scaling models (such as direct expansion or the use of digital) have been taken up, what this has meant for job creation and what the key success factors and challenges are to scale.
In this section of the report, the Fund looks into digitisation and why it is important for financial inclusion. This involves examining how digitisation has underpinned successful Fund-supported business models as well as how digital tools can help address some of the impact of COVID-19. Two participant examples, M-Kopa Solar and Rwanda Trading Company are featured in terms of how they use data in their businesses.
While not a factor in 2019 reporting, the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for the portfolio and Fund at large in 2020. The Fund has in the report looked into how the virus has affected the portfolio, how participants have responded, Fund objectives for effective response and how the Fund is responding to protect the significant gains made in financial inclusion and in transforming lives.