Martha Oluwatobi is the proud owner of a market stall in Lagos, Nigeria. She sells minerals used for health benefits by expectant mothers who routinely buy small amounts of clay-like ingredients a few times a week. She doesn’t make much but, after she covers expenses, Martha is able to put some savings aside every day. Her challenge: keeping those savings safe.

There is a bank in the neighbourhood, but she cannot take the time to walk to the bank and line up to make deposits. As a result, she until recently had little choice but to hide her savings away in places she hoped would be safe. But a better solution came her way. Today, a Diamond Bank agent visits her every day, receives the money she would like to save and deposits it directly in a “no frills” bank account via mobile phone. Martha receives an SMS confirmation that the deposit has been made along with her current balance. At least she does when the mobile network is up. If not, she has to trust the agent to make the deposit later in the day and send her an SMS later.

This solution from Diamond Bank ‒ a basic bank account issued by agents in markets like Martha’s across Lagos ‒ was designed as the result of a grant from Visa to Women’s World Banking, which worked with the bank on the product design and training of the agents. These kinds of solutions are growing in number across Africa, and are equally applicable to village savings and loan type groups.

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