By Buumba Chimbulu

ZAMBIA currently has over 500, 000 savings group members whose performance has been huge, says Financial Sector Deepening Zambia (FsDZ) chief executive office Betty Wilkinson.

Ms Wilkinson said of that number, 25 percent of them also used formal ways of saving such as holding bank accounts.

 She explained that the savings groups had assisted as participating members to be part of financial inclusion.

“Saving groups offer easy, simple and regular services. The performance of these groups has been huge. There is approximately 500, 000 saving group members in Zambia, that is almost 70 percent of the population,” she said

Ms. Wilkinson said out of the 500, 000, 80 percent were females.

She was speaking in Lusaka this week at the 2017 World Savings Day during her presentation on “Key Findings about Savings Groups in Zambia.”

She emphasised that members of the savings groups could be linked to formal financial services by providing easy and affordable products.

And a survey conducted by the World Bank called “Enhancing Financial Capability and Inclusion in Zambia” revealed that the main reasons for lack of account ownership by most people were insufficient money to operate it.

According to the report presented by the bank’s financial sector expert, Mercy Chiluba, also revealed that there was low and almost zero usage of private pensions and investments institutions, respectively, for savings.

The Bank had since urged financial institutions to provide accessible services geared towards specific needs of customers, including planning and saving for old age.

She said the institutions also needed to design and use a wider range of programmes to enhance financial knowledge and change attitudes and financial behaviour.

“Since increased costs of food and necessary items, overspending and fluctuating/unreliable income are the main barriers, people need adequate budgeting and financial planning skills,” reads the report in part.

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