In 2012, NBS Bank in Malawi found itself at a critical junction as a new management team came on board and faced a range of challenges, from deteriorating loan quality to outdated IT systems to currency devaluation. That same year, the bank piloted agency banking, the first of its kind in Malawi, and received support from MicroLead to develop Pafupi Savings, roll it out nationally, and reach unbanked women in rural areas. While the market potential was undeniable, was this the right time for the bank to bet on the unbanked?
This case explores the introduction of the tailored savings account, Pafupi Savings, designed to expand access for low-income and unbanked people in rural areas, especially women. Pafupi Savings relies on agency banking, mobile technology and community-based marketing to reach rural women where they are.