Principal Investigators: Santadarshan Sadhu (IFMR Trust), Leopold Sarr (World Bank), Nathan Fisla (World Bank)
Research Team: Sirisha Papieni , Mudita Tiwari
LEAD Centre: Centre for Microfinance (CMF)
Focus Area: Savings
Project Geography: Uttar Pradesh
Partner: FINO
Status: Ongoing


A major issue facing development practitioners and policymakers in the developing world is the limited access the poor have to financial services. While low-income households may be trying to escape poverty traps, it is difficult for them to do so without appropriate financial tools. This belief, that access to finance is critical for poverty alleviation efforts, has driven the financial inclusion in India and abroad. A key financial model aimed at increasing financial inclusion in India is the Business Correspondent (BC) model, a system which allows institutional and individual agents to provide banking services to traditionally unbanked populations.

FINO, a diverse business and technology organization, is one of the few institutions to offer “doorstep” banking and financial services in the country. Most villages in which FINO operates have little or no access to banks and the organization specifically targets low-income families who have a hard time opening savings accounts. To solve access issues, FINO employs Business Correspondents also known as Bandhus, who visit clients door-to-door and conduct immediate savings and withdrawal transactions at clients’ doorsteps.

CMF, in partnership with the World Bank, is conducting an impact evaluation of FINO’s financial literacy (FE) program in two districts of Uttar Pradesh – Varanasi and Azamgarh. The financial literacy training FINO provides its clients includes information on the importance of savings, features of FINO’s savings product as well as instructions about deposit and withdrawal transactions that take place through “doorstep” banking. FINO also provides its clients with a smart card, which allows them to access to banking services via a portable transaction machine.