The Fund portfolio is now complete in terms of selection and approximately 90% of financial support available through the Fund has been disbursed to the projects to date.
Based on the diverse business models, it is clear that some projects are further along than others in terms of generating development impact.
The total number of customers reached has more than doubled in the first half of 2018, as the portfolio began to mature and the majority of participants moved into full implementation. In this regard, self-reported figures from the participating projects as at June 2018, indicate that over 950,000 customers have used at least one financial product or service made available with Fund support. This is significant, and in all likelihood, the Fund has already met its initial numbers target of 1,000,000 people with better financial access given not all projects have completed reporting in the period.
In order to track usage (in addition to outreach), participants are asked to report on the number of active customers as well. While these are defined differently for each financial product or service, all are measured over a time span of 12 months. At the aggregate level, over 850,000 customers (a retention rate of nearly 80%) were deemed ‘active’, which is encouraging given the work of the Fund is not only to increase access to financial products and services as it is achieving, but to encourage increased usage.
The number of customers who participated in financial literacy capacity building in 2017 was just over 215,000. In the first half of 2018 alone, this figure is approximately 146,000. This means in total, over 360,000 customers using a financial product or service supported by the Fund, have received some kind of capacity building/literacy training to date. This is another encouraging statistic, and will in future result in better and more frequent use of products and services, for the benefit of households.
While the Fund is not focused on job creation, jobs created directly within the Fund supported program are tracked. This excludes any jobs created as a result of the Fund intervention at the beneficiary level, for example if a farmer employed additional help during the harvest season. As participants would have to collect this information from their beneficiaries in order to report it, measurement of employment creation at this level is costly and often inaccurate.
In the first half of 2018, over 350 new jobs were created within Fund participants, bringing the total to over 750. Broken down by gender, 28% of jobs created were female and 72% male. When looking at youth jobs, the Fund portfolio performs very well, with 59% of jobs created for youth. This is partly explained by the technology driven nature of many of these jobs, which tend to advantage younger applicants.
More detailed impact results will be published in this section as it is collated and verified by the Fund Management team. There is also a comprehensive Impact Report planned for 2019 which will provide insight given the stage the Fund and its portfolio of projects will be at.
What is clear is that the initial Fund target of improving 1,000,000 lives in Sub-Saharan Africa through financial inclusion will be surpassed and in fact may already have been met. The challenge for all stakeholders is to ensure continued (as opposed to one-time) usage of financial products and services by the rural community, and long term sustainability of the business projects for continued impact delivery which will significantly transform lives.