Rising Fountains Development Programme (RFDP) is targeting to reach 3,000 beneficiaries of the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) in the North-Western Province of Zambia with support from RUFEP.

RFDP has taken the challenge to promote Savings Groups in North-Western as the province has the lowest number of Community Based Financial Institutions (CBFIs) or Savings Groups in Zambia, due to the limited number of Savings Group Promoters.

According to SaveNet data, North-Western had less than 10,000 Savings Group members by 2019 as compared to other provinces in Zambia.

Supported by RUFEP under the Agency and Mobile Banking Window of the Innovation and Outreach Facility (IOF), RFDP is implementing a project called Sustainable Financial Inclusion and Linkages Project in North-Western Province aimed to form and link VSLAs to Madison Finance.

Speaking when a RUFEP Team went on a monitoring field visit in North-Western Province and to meet the VSLAs groups formed, Project Manager, Maxwell Kakwisa thanked RUFEP for supporting RFDP to undertake the Sustainable Financial Inclusion and Linkages project in North-Western Province.

Mr. Kakwisa said RFDP partnered with Madison Finance to link 125 VSLAs to the Financial Service Provider by the end of the Project.

“We are working in Solwezi, Kalumbila and Mushindamo targeting to reach 3000 beneficiaries by encouraging them to form savings groups to be linked to Madison Finance. We make sure all individual members have mobile money accounts so that they are also financially linked as individuals”, he said.

RUFEP Programme Coordinator Michael Mbulo said the field visits were conducted to monitor progress by implementing partners and to physically assess progress on the ground.

Mr. Mbulo said the partnership with was not new as RUFEP had supported a previous project by the implementing partner in Lundazi, Eastern Province under the Savings Group Linkages Window One.

He said RUFEP was hopeful that Rising Fountains Development Programme would meet the set targets before the end of the project by April 2022.

The team later met with Savings Groups under Chief Mumena’s area in Kalumbila district who gathered at the chief’s palace to attend a training on financial inclusion and linkages organized by Rising Fountain Development Program.

Mr. Kakumba Shenende is a smallholder farmer in Chief Mumena’s area in Kalumbila district of Northwestern Province and a member Altar Savings Group.As beneficiary, Mr. Shenende disclosed that Savings Groups have helped smallholder farmers like him not to be dependent on the Farmers Input Supply Programme (FISP) by the government.

“I grow various crops and keep livestock. I’m productive throughout the year. Savings groups have helped me to have access to finances all the time for my farming inputs other than just depending on government programs like FISP. The fact is that FISP inputs cannot fully sustain your farming but the money from savings groups is able to buy extra inputs to supplement FISP”, he narrated.


The Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ) has partnered with its affiliate church health institutions to promote financial health of rural communities through savings in Mpongwe District in the Copperbelt.

CHAZ has been promoting Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) through its affiliate church health institutions in Mpongwe District, Copperbelt Province and in Petauke District in Eastern Province’s with support from the Rural Finance Expansion Programme (RUFEP).

Since 2016, CHAZ has been working with RUFEP to build capacity of VSLAs in Petauke District in Eastern Province with support from RUFEP under the Community Based Financial Institutions Linkages Window.

In Mpongwe District, CHAZ is working with St. Theresa and Mpongwe Mission Hospitals of the Catholic Church to promote financial health of rural communities through village savings and loan associations. This has uplifted the livelihoods of the rural people who are mostly vulnerable and lack of access to basic health care and financial services.

With support from RUFEP under the Agency and Mobile Banking Window of the Innovation and Outreach Facility, CHAZ is implementing a project dubbed Community Based Microfinance Mobile Banking Project through St. Theresa Mission Hospital in Mpongwe rural.

Apart from facilitating linkages with formal financial institutions, the Community Based Microfinance Mobile Banking Project promotes digitization of VSLAs transactions using mobile banking.

On the 21st September, 2021, a RUFEP delegation went on a monitoring field visit to assess progress by CHAZ on the Project. The first point of call was St. Theresa Mission Hospital in Mpongwe District.

Sr. Veronica Bwalya is the Deputy Administrator for St. Theresa Mission Hospital. Sr. Bwalya briefed the RUFEP team on progress made by her health institution on the CHAZ and RUFEP supported project in Mpongwe district.

She said Field Officers and Agents were trained to coach the Savings Group members on business management and income generating activities (IGA) adding that a number of them opened bank accounts thereafter.

“Members of Saving Groups including those living with HIV/AIDS who never ran any business are now saving and borrowing from their respective savings groups to engage in income generating activities”, she said.

She thanked RUFEP for the initiative to digitize savings groups and linking them to ZANACO, which has contributed in bringing financial services closer to the people through the Zanaco Express Agents recruited under the project.

Project Micro-Finance and Mobile Banking Supervisor Maybin Silavwe said Savings Groups have empowered vulnerable people to be self-reliant who were under the care of health institutions as they have their own stable incomes now.

Mr. Silavwe disclosed that Zanaco Express Agents were recruited from within Savings Group members and are providing financial services within the communities.

From St. Theresa Mission Hospital, the RUFEP delegation proceeded to meet Kucetekela Village Banking Group to witness how the groups have digitized their transactions using mobile phones.

The RUFEP team also visited the Baptist Church’s Mpongwe Mission Hospital another health institution member of CHAZ involved in the promotion of village banking in the district.

Hospital Administrator Rose Munkombwe thanked CHAZ, Zanaco and RUFEP for promoting savings group linkages with banks and digital savings through mobile banking.

RUFEP Programme Coordinator Michael Mbulo said RUFEP aims to increase access to and use of sustainable financial services by rural people.

Mr. Mbulo added that sustainability entails that innovations supported by RUFEP through partners such as CHAZ and its affiliate members should continue beyond RUFEP support.

The team proceeded to meet saving groups that were attending a business and financial training in preparation for migration from cash-based transactions to digital savings in the next cycle.

RUFEP was happy to witness commitment by savings group members to better their livelihoods through savings and their willingness to adopt mobile banking as a safe and convenient way of promoting cashless transactions in the wake of COVID-19.


Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM) has linked thirty rural Self-Help Groups (SHGs) to the Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco) in Kapiri Mposhi District of Central province.

Jesus Cares (JCM) is implementing a project named Financial Inclusion for Self Help Groups (SHGs) with  support from the Rural Finance Expansion Program (RUFEP) under the Innovation and Outreach Facility (IOF) matching grants.

Supported by RUFEP under the Community Based Financial Institutions (CBFIs) Linkages Window of the IOF, the project aims to link the Self-Help Groups in the area to formal financial institutions and to promote use of mobile money services in their saving activities.

On the 20th September 2021, RUFEP visited the Self-Help Groups supported by Jesus Cares Ministries in Kapiri Mposhi rural to monitor progress by the implementing partner. Before visiting the groups, the RUFEP team first made a stopover at the Jesus Cares Ministries’ Headquarters in Kabwe where the implementing partner briefed RUFEP on the progress made by the Project.

Project Manager Mrs. Mwiche Chishimba said the project targeted to link 203 SHGs to formal financial institutions in Kapiri Mposhi and Kabwe in Central Province and in Katete and Chipata in Eastern province.

Mrs. Chishimba disclosed that JCM trained the groups on business management and income generating activities and convinced them on the benefits of being linked with formal financial institutions.

“It was a challenge to convince the groups to start saving in a bank due to lack of understanding but after training them for about three months they appreciated the benefits of saving money in a bank account”, she said.

After the briefing, RUFEP and JCM team traveled to Kapiri Mposhi where meetings were held with Thandizo and Mulungushi Self Help Groups in Katuba and Mulungushi villages of St Pauls’ area.

Thandizo Self Help Group members testified that the linkage with Zanaco has made their saving easy as their money is now deposited at the bank for safe keeping instead of keeping it in homes.

Chairlady for the Group Beatrice Lumambwe thanked RUFEP and Jesus Cares Ministries for supporting rural Self-Help Groups and promoting linkages with financial service providers.

Katuba Headman Gilbert Lwengele said promoting Savings Groups such as Self-Help Groups was changing livelihoods of rural people in Katuba. Headman Lwengele added that this has also brought unity among women who are now doing great things to empower themselves and their households.

Jesus Cares Ministries encouraged the group members to continue working hard in their business and to continue using the knowledge they have acquired even after the RUFEP project ends.

And Mulungushi Self Help Group members linked to FINCA shared with the RUFEP team how their livelihoods have been transformed through Self Help Groups.

Mrs. Charity Mulubwa is the Project Officer for Jesus Cares Ministry. She disclosed that the project has supported a total of Fifty-Seven (57) Groups out of which thirty-four (34) were rural groups. She added that out of the 34 rural groups, 30 were linked with Zanaco.

RUFEP Programme Coordinator Michael Mbulo encouraged Jesus Cares Ministries to continue promoting linkages for rural self hep groups to formal financial service providers to expand rural financial inclusion.

Meanwhile, many young people are now beginning to reap the benefits of belonging to savings groups. Bollen Nganuka a Grade Twelve School leaver and member of Mulungushi Self-Help Group disclosed that proceeds from farming have helped him to raise his initial capital for saving with his Group. Bollen now plans to go to college to further his education.

Another inspiring story is that of Clere Njobesha who had failed to get her grade twelve results as she was owing her former secondary school about Four thousand kwacha.  After joining Mulungushi Self Help Group, she got a loan and used it to start business activities which saw her clearing the arrears at the school. After getting her results, Clere has applied for enrolment to start her nursing studies.

RUFEP is happy that the youth have taken interest to participate in Self Help Groups in Kapiri Mposhi rural to empower themselves. Further, youths were encouraged to join saving groups such as Self-Help Groups to unlock their potential and support themselves instead of depending on parents and guardians.