Mercy Corps and GN Bank (Liberia) Limited are introducing a new financial product in Liberia called MSavings, which is developed specifically with the needs of youth entrepreneurs in mind and is offered in combination with training in business savings strategies and personal financial advisory services by GN Bank.
A functioning financial services market is a precondition for youth entrepreneurs’ long term ability to conduct secure savings, build credit history and to access sustainable sources of funding. These are critical levers for any new business to be able to grow and sustain itself. Based on insights from field research in Nimba, Bong, Montserrado and Grand Bassa Counties, Mercy Corps is working with financial service providers to support them in developing products that are useful for the small-scale entrepreneur and on distribution strategies that make the financial services accessible to them.
The new product developed with GN Bank, called MSavings, is free and enables small entrepreneurs who may be new to the world of formal financial services to make small deposits into a savings bank account by using GN Mobile Money. They can use MSavings both as normal mobile money to pay bills, transfer money or buy airtime and for saving securely in the bank. Deposits can be made as often and in whatever sums the customer likes, via mobile money agents within their community, at GN Bank branches, agency banks (like local shops or kiosks) or through GN Mobile Vans that come to a location close to the customer if there is no bank branch or agent nearby. The entrepreneurs will be earning a competitive 2% interest on their deposits and become credit and loan worthy over time. Users of MSavings will also have a personal account manager who keeps in touch regularly to offer advice and answer queries entrepreneurs may have about their savings journey and their finances in general.
Mercy Corps and GN Bank’s objectives of the MSavings partnership are to improve entrepreneurs’ ability and discipline to regularly save money towards business goals, improve informal and small businesses’ potential to grow and interact with formal financial services, increase and diversify small business owners’ use of mobile money and bank services – bringing them into the formal financial sphere, and moving away from exclusively cash-based and insecure financial habits.
The mission of GN Bank (Liberia) Limited is to be “The People’s Bank” with a target to serve ordinary Liberians such as students, farmers, traders, SMEs, professionals and workers. Since its inception, GN Bank has sought to bridge the gap in financial inclusion by taking practical steps to reach both the banked and unbanked across all regions in the country. The Bank has over fifteen (15) locations across the country and has signed an Agency Agreement with the National Forex Exchange Bureaus of Liberia with a membership of one hundred and thirty-three (133).
The objective of Mercy Corps’ Promoting Sustainable Partnerships for Economic Transformation (PROSPECTS) program is to ensure that young Liberians find meaningful, market-driven employment or self- employment through increased self-confidence, skills, and opportunities. Working closely with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Commerce, TVETs and the private sector, PROSPECTS is providing opportunities for employment and self-employment for over 15,000 youth in Bong, Montserrado and Nimba counties over the life of the program. Mercy Corps extends its gratitude to the Swedish government through its Embassy in Liberia for their continued funding of the PROSPECTS Program and their desire to help grow Liberian-owned small businesses and to contribute to Liberia’s development.