The Financial Literacy Week is commemorated in Zambia and globally as part of the Global Money Week to promote financial education, literacy and ultimately financial wellbeing and resilience of all age groups.

Since 2013, Zambia has commemorated the Financial Literacy Week for the past 10 years. Held annually in the Month of March under different themes, the 2022 Financial Literacy Week ran from 21st to 27th March 2022 under the theme, “Build Your Future: Be Money Smart”.

The Rural Finance Expansion Programme (RUFEP) has been one of the key partners with other stakeholders in the Financial Sector supporting the Financial Literacy Week Campaigns in Zambia.

In 2022, RUFEP together with Zambia Rainbow Development Foundation (ZRDF) and Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO) commemorated the Financial Literacy Week targeting Savings Groups in Luano District in Mkushi North Constituency.

Mkushi North Constituency Member of Parliament(MP), Honorable Christopher Chibuye thanked RUFEP for supporting rural communities through Savings Groups in his constituency through ZRDF.

Mr. Michael Mbulo(L) with Mkushi North MP Hon Christopher Chibuye

Commenting on the theme for 2022 Financial Literacy Week: Build Your Future:  Be Money Smart, Honorable Chibuye urged his constituents to build and secure their future through savings.

To the people of Mkushi North Constituency and the rest of the country, let us build our future by embracing a culture of saving and to secure our children’s future. Saving starts with small coins. By saving money and even food for the future, we secure our future”, he said.

Speaking during a courtesy call to the Area MP, RUFEP Programme Coordinator Mr. Michael Mbulo said the mandate of RUFEP was to ensure that rural people have access to and use of sustainable financial services in Zambia.

RUFEP has been working with various partners such as Financial Service Providers (FSPs), Digital Financial Service (DFS) Providers, FinTechs and NGOs with interest in financial services provision for rural communities. In Mkushi North, we are working with ZRDF. As RUFEP, we do not do actual implementation but work through partners (such as ZRDF) as a sustainability strategy, so that when we are not there, they can continue working with rural communities”, Mr. Mbulo said.

The Community Based Financial Institutions (CBFIs) Linkages Project by ZRDF supported by RUFEP linked 25 SILC Groups and built capacity of over 100 SILC Groups by December 2020 when the project closed.

On the 23rd March 2022, RUFEP visited ZRDF in Mkushi North Constituency to meet Savings Groups supported by the Partner (ZRDF) in Luano Valley and to document lessons learnt.

RUFEP Knowledge Management and Communications Specialist, Mr. Cephas Moonga said the mission by RUFEP was conducted to harvest knowledge and lessons learnt from the project which completed in 2020 and to promote the Financial Literacy Week.

Speaking during a debriefing meeting in Masansa at ZRDF Offices before field visits, Mr. Moonga said continuity of project innovations beyond the RUFEP support was key to sustainability of interventions.

Mr. Brandy Mungaila

ZRDF Executive Director, Mr. Brandy Mungaila disclosed that following the project completion in 2020, his organization went beyond the catchment area and exceeded the targets set under the initial RUFEP supported project.

Mr. Mungaila disclosed that 52 SILC Groups were linked to ZANACO by March 2022 and assured that ZRDF will continue to build capacity of the groups beyond the support from RUFEP.

While the RUFEP supported project under the Saving Group linkages targeted to link 25 SILC Groups to ZANACO, ZRDF has continued to support the groups and currently 296 SILC Groups had received capacity building support while 52 were linked to ZANACO”, he said.

And RUFEP Programme Coordinator Mr. Michael Mbulo said RUFEP’s implementation strategy was indirect through partners adding that ZRDF’s success was RUFEP’s success.

By Mid-Term Review in 2018, RUFEP had exceeded its target of 140,000 Households in terms of outreach and this has increased to over 500,000 by March 2022. Credit goes to all our implementing partners including ZRDF for this success”, Mr. Mbulo said.

He said as RUFEP (2014-2022) was winding up its operations, it was necessary to document lessons learnt through data collection and knowledge harvesting as part of impact evaluation.

Mr. Mbulo thanked ZANACO for supporting RUFEP’s mission to expand rural financial inclusion through innovations such as the Community Based Financial Institutions Linkages Window and for the partnership during the Financial Literacy Week.

On the same day, RUFEP, ZRDF and ZANACO delegation visited selected SILC Groups linked to ZANACO in Mkushi. The groups visited are based in Fiwila and Kaloko Areas of Luano District.

Among the Savings Groups met in Fiwila and Kaloko Areas included Kamichelo, Wishalila, Twafweni, Tukamona, Tubombeshe, Kampoko Youth and Twafweni SILC Groups.

SILC Group Members shared testimonies of how Savings Groups have empowered them and improved their livelihoods.

Savings Group beneficiaries testified that they have increased their agricultural productivity through purchase of inputs, bought livestock, built better houses and have food and nutrition security.

Mr. Felix Kangwa

Speaking during a meeting with Kamichelo SILC Groups, ZANACO Mkushi Branch Manager, Mr. Felix Kangwa expressed happiness that the engagements with the groups by the Bank through the partnership with ZRDF and RUFEP were bearing fruits.

Mr. Kangwa encouraged group members to continue saving within their groups and the bank to build their future and that of their children.

From the testimonies, we have seen the goodness of saving. Save in the groups and loan each other or bring the money to the bank for safe keeping and to ensure money circulates. We want groups to grow so that we have bigger testimonies in future”, he said.

Later, in Kaloko and Fiwila, the delegation proceeded to meet Wishalila SILC Group where RUFEP, ZRDF and ZANACO continued to enlighten group members on the importance of saving.

Speaking during a meeting with Wishalila SILC Group, Mr. Mbulo said RUFEP’s partnership with ZRDF and ZANACO aims to ensure rural Savings Groups are part of the financial system to secure savings.

ZRDF is training groups in financial literacy so that members can keep, save and invest to make more money. When your money grows you need to keep it safe with ZANACO. As we commemorate the financial literacy week across the country, we need to learn how to use money and invest to improve our lives”, he said.

The Financial Literacy Week contributes to the achievement of the objectives of the National Strategy on Financial Education (2019- 2024) launched in 2019. The objective of the strategy is to improve knowledge, understanding, skills, motivation and confidence for the Zambian population to secure positive financial outcomes for themselves and their families by 2024. The financial education and literacy campaigns target children, youths, adults and all age groups.



Savings Groups are informal Community Based Financial Institutions (CBFIs) providing access to financial services by rural people who are financially excluded.

Traditionally, Savings Groups have been using a Box to keep their money under the custody of their group Treasurer. The Box poses various security risks such as theft and fire, given that most rural homes are grass thatched.

Since inception in 2014, RUFEP through the Innovation and Outreach Facility (IOF) matching grants supported Savings Group Promoters to link informal CBFIs or Savings Groups to formal Financial Service Providers (FSPs) to avert the security risky of keeping money in the Box.

From 2016 to 2022, RUFEP has supported about 12 Implementing Partners (IPs) under the CBFIs linkages Window One (I) of the IOF to build capacity of Savings Groups or Village Banks and link them to formal financial institutions. This is to ensure security of group savings and to expand rural financial inclusion.

The Implementing Partners included Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Private Sector Organizations, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) and Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs).

Among the NGOs supported by RUFEP since 2016 includes Keepers Zambia Foundation (KZF), Africare, Rising Fountains Development Programme (RFDP), Zambia Rainbow Development Foundation (ZRDF), SOS Children’s Village of Zambia Trust (SOS),- and Nutri-Aid Trust.

The Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ), Kasama Christian Community Care (KCCC), Catholic Diocese of Mansa and Jesus Cares Ministries are some of the Faith Based Organizations supported by RUFEP to promote Savings Group linkages.

Among the Financial Services Providers that developed products for Savings Group linkages includes the Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO), NATSAVE, Madison Finance, Vision Fund and FINCA.

ZANACO Head Preferred Banking, Mrs. Mbololwa Zimba disclosed that the Village Banking Product which attracts no bank charges was developed in 2019 as a result of RUFEP’s engagement with the Bank (ZANACO).

Mrs. Mbololwa Zimba: ZANACO Head Preferred Banking

RUFEP invited us to a discussion forum where they explained on the challenges the groups were facing in terms of keeping their money safe. From that meeting RUFEP encouraged ZANACO to reflect on what solutions the Bank can provide for savings groups or village banks”, Mrs.  Zimba said.

By 2022, over 60,000 Savings Group members were linked to financial services by the Savings Group Promoters using different methodologies such as Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC), Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and Own Savings for Assets and Wealth creation (OSAWE) etc.

CHAZ Microfinance Programme Officer, Mr. Joyous Sikalima disclosed that the initial challenge RUFEP partners faced on the CBFI linkages was that FSPs particularly banks did not understand the operations of Savings Groups or Village Banks.

Mr. Sikalima added that existing products offered by the banks were not suitable for Savings Groups or Village Banks as they attracted bank charges which proved to be a barrier for linkages.

Following the development of the ZANACO Village Bank Product, CHAZ engaged ZANACO towards the end of 2019. We managed to link 165 VSLAs to ZANACO by March 2022. This happened after the RUFEP supported Project on CBFIs Linkages had already closed”, he said.

Through Preferred Bankers ZANACO engaged with the groups directly at Minga Mission Hospital and in Petauke rural to facilitate opening of Village Banking Accounts.

Speaking during field visits in Petauke rural, ZANACO Petauke Branch Preferred Banker, Mr. Jolly Bima said he had been assisting Savings Groups and communities in Petauke and Nyimba Districts to open Village Bank accounts with ZANACO.

ZANACO’s Village Bank Product has no bank charges. Savings Groups just require a registration certificate, Group Constitution, Tax Payer Identification Number (TPIN) from the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), a minimum of ZMW100.00 and 2 to 10 signatories to open an account”, he said.

Following a partnership agreement between SOS and ZANACO, RUFEP signed a grant agreement with SOS Children’s Village Trust in October, 2020 to implement a Project entitled ‘Promoting Village Own Savings Associations’.

SOS Children’s Village Zambia Trust is one of RUFEP’s partners under the CBFIs Linkages Window promoting Savings Group Linkages with ZANACO in Eastern and Southern Provinces of Zambia.

While the Project managed to link 1,759 VSLA group members to ZANACO against the target of 1,500 by March 2022, implementation of the project was delayed in 2021, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In Eastern Province, SOS had linked 644 VSLA Group members to ZANACO in Chipata and Chadiza Districts by the end of March 2022.

Speaking during field visits by the RUFEP Team in March 2022, SOS Family Strengthening Coordinator, Mr. Howard Mulenga disclosed that 19 Groups were linked to ZANACO in the two districts.

Mr. Mulenga said in Chadiza, 10 VSLA Groups were linked with 4 remaining while in Chipata, 9 Groups were linked out of 25 adding that the remaining groups needed further strengthening and had challenges to get their TPINs before they are linked.

Among the challenges we faced in 2021 was the COVID-19 Pandemic and the August 2021 General Elections which were disruptive for us to mobilize and build capacity for Savings Groups before linking them to ZANACO”, he said

ZANACO Chipata Branch and Regional Manager Mr. Mabvuto Ndhlovu was happy that SOS Children’s Village Trust partnered with ZANACO to promote linkages of savings groups in Eastern Province.

Mr. Ndhlovu said the response was overwhelming from rural communities who have embraced the Village Bank Product for ZANACO.

In Central Province’s Mkushi rural in Luano District, Zambia Rainbow Development Foundation (ZRDF) with support from RUFEP has been building capacity of Savings Groups and linking the groups to ZANACO.

Using the Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) model, ZRDF had built capacity of 296 SILC Groups and linked 52 SILC Groups to ZANACO by the end of March 2022.

ZRDF Executive Director Mr. Brandy Mungaila said the interventions on the SILC Group linkages supported by RUFEP was successful with huge impact on the ground.

Savings Groups members linked to formal financial institutions such as ZANACO are happy that their money is now safe with the bank.

While the box is still in use, it is now a storage for group records. It has remained a reminder of the past when Treasurers never used to have a peace of mind in their homes as custodians of Group Savings.