Leveraging the


for rural women

By moving


into the formal financial system

About MicroLead

The Challenge

While savings is one of the most important tools rural women use to smooth their incomes, deal with life events, and build income-producing assets, formal deposit services and financial education have rarely been made available to rural low-income populations.
Additionally, local financial service providers (FSPs) are not sufficiently equipped to reach this market on a viable basis. These factors have also impeded economic growth in rural areas.

How We Are Helping?

Building off lessons learned from the initial MicroLead programme, MLE encourages formal FSPs to reach out to rural unbanked populations, particularly women, with deposit products and financial education tailored to clients' needs. By deploying alternative delivery channels, such as agency banking and digital financial services (DFS), and predominantly working through informal groups, the programme has set the business model for FSPs and reached over one million rural dwellers who were previously considered unbankable populations.

What Will We Do Next?

The next phase of MicroLead will combine the best of our knowledge and practice in multiple fields, including sociology (sociology behind groups being effective savings mechanisms), behavioural economics (use of human-centered design, customer journey and customer engagement strategies), technology (DFS, alternative delivery channels, etc.) and financial analysis (business case and viability). This strategy, integrated with UNCDF's ability to build partnerships and engage with market actors and governments, will result in systemic market changes which drives financial inclusion for all.

MicroLead and the SDGs

Over two billion adults still do not have access to financial services. These unbanked consist predominantly of women (1.1 billion), the poor and those living in remote rural areas.

MicroLead is working to end poverty by supporting the development, piloting, and scaling of deposit services for the rural poor, especially women. By leveraging digital technology and linkages with informal community savings groups, and facilitating peer-to-peer learning among financial service providers, MicroLead is expanding access to finance to the “last mile” of the unbanked.

MicroLead contributes towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through reaching the “furthest behind” especially rural populations, particularly women, by providing access to customer-centric digital financial services which are offered via easily accessible and convenient delivery channels, supported by financial capability activities for actors all along the financial services value chain.

It will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the goal of ending poverty (goal 1), the goal of ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture (goal 2), and the goal of achieving gender equality and economic empowerment of women (goal 5). MicroLead also contributes towards the Addis Ababa Financing for Development Agenda of domestic resource mobilization due to its focus on deposit mobilization.

In Focus

MicroLead by the Numbers (2017)


Total Funding






Low-income depositors reached by 2017



Rural Outreach


Women's Economic Empowerment

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