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ABOUT 656 savings groups have been established in Luapula province with the help of Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Zambia.

The groups were established last year under the Financial Inclusion through Traditional Leaders (FIT) project, says FSD Zambia Board Chairman, Caleb Fundanga.

Dr Fundanga said at a media briefing that the savings groups had a membership of 33,823, with over 80 per cent of them being women in Luapula province.

“There are plans to expand the project to other part of the country. Eastern Province traditional leaders have reached out to FSD Zambia wishing to do similar works that their counterparts in Luapula are doing.

“We will continue to design interventions that respond to our end clients new unique needs,” he said.

Giving highlights to the preliminary results for the fiscal year 2020/21, Dr Fundanga said at the end of the financial year, about 83 percent of the FSD Zambia clients were reported to be financially healthy

He said in the last year, FSD Zambia programme had significantly impacted household financial health and improved the lives of millions of low income Zambians.

According to the preliminary results for the fiscal year 2020/21, 81 percent of FSD Zambia clients reported savings to cope with unexpected expenses.

Dr Fundanga said FSD Zambia established working capital for 500 small scale tailors under the Business Reliance Facility (BRE), promoting numerous income opportunities, particularly for poor women.

“We distributed 44,000 mobile phones and 15,700 solar charges to vulnerable women and poor households to expand access to life- saving information on Covid-19, enhance financial education messaging and deepen digital financial inclusion through mobile money.

On the funding, Dr Fundanga said FSD Zambia was aware of reductions in funding for development programmes the world over occasioned by the very harsh impact of Covid-19 on international donors.

“We will engage our financing partners Sweden’s government agency for development cooperation (SIDA), COMIC Relief and Jersey overseas aid, Rural Finance Expansion Programme (RUFEP) and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for continued support to conduct the vulnerable work we do to improve Zambian lives,” he said.

Dr Fundanga said going forward FSD Zambia would focus its programme on supporting essential work such as support to chiefs and traditional leaders in Luapula province to deepen financial inclusion for rural communities.

“We will continue work with women and youths and progress with agriculture and digitisation. Our work on research results, knowledge management and communications will be ongoing,” he said.

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