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486. Encouraging savings with an innovative on-site deposit service in Benin and Mali

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Coop Name: Desjardins Group N° of Employees: 45,219
City: Lévis N° of Members: 5800000
Country: Canada Year of formation: 1900
Website: http://www.desjardins.com Twitter: Link
About this coop:

With more than 6 million members and clients, Desjardins Group is the largest cooperative financial group in Canada. As an International Co-operative Alliance member, Desjardins shares the same ideals as thousands of cooperatives around the world. These ideals are expressed through a set of values that defined the cooperative identity since the very start. For more than 40 years, its component Développement international Desjardins (DID) has been working with developing and emerging countries towards the goal of sharing the expertise and experience of Desjardins and helping local communities set up their own financial cooperative networks. DID’s goal is to provide disadvantaged communities around the world with access to secure, diversified financial services that fit their needs. Find stories from Desjardin Group and DID below.

Photo Credits: Alain Beauregard (DID)

Do you find it hard to save? Now imagine you only earn $1.25 a day and that the banking infrastructure is very limited. This is what many inhabitants of Benin and Mali, West African countries of 10.3 and 14.5 million people respectively, experience every day.

Savings being the driving force of independence and development,Développement international Desjardins (DID) and its partners gave themselves the challenge of developing a system in which everyone could deposit money securely and on a regular basis, regardless of how much money they had.

The new savings plan is named “on-site deposit service” (in French Épargne sur place). The plan was initially launched in Togo by the FUCEC cooperative financial network, and then further developed by DID in collaboration with the FECECAM coop network in Benin and Nyèsigiso coop network in Mali (all 3 networks are part of the Proxfin international association that brings together 29 DID-partner community finance institutions from around the world). The way it works is simple. Each day, caisse employees travel across the country to collect deposits ranging from CFAF100 (C$0.25) to CFAF10 000 (C$25) from people who earn a daily or weekly income, such as storekeepers and people who sell fruits and vegetables.

The innovation didn’t just end there. Transactions made on caisse employees’ cell phones are automatically sent into members’ accounts. At the end of the day, employees can check that deposits were made properly and get access to updated information on the savings collected by the caisse and savings balance of each member.

A service much appreciated by women

The local service is greatly appreciated by users. Many female storekeepers have signed on to the service. The fact that someone comes to them is a big advantage, since they spend long hours at the market meeting with clients and overseeing sales.

Put aside little by little, the money saved becomes an extraordinary lever to purchase business equipment or to apply for a loan from the caisse. Money at the service of people.

Easier for members and easier for employees. It’s easy to see why it’s so successful.


Author of this story
Jean Thibaudeau and France Michaud
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