Financial Inclusion | June 11, 2024

Selcom’s stake in Access Microfinance could spur digital business lending in Tanzania

Lucy Ngige
Guest Author

Lucy Ngige

Access Microfinance Bank Tanzania started in 2007 to provide credit, savings and money transfer services to low-income earners and entrepreneurs. Digital payments company Selcom has now acquired a 65% stake in ABT along with its microfinance license.

The deal will enable ABT to leverage Selcom’s infrastructure to reach more underserved small businesses.

“We started the bank based almost entirely on human, manual work assisted by very basic and ‘cobbled together’ technology,” said ABT’s David James. Bridging Selcom’s digital capabilities with ABT’s physical footprint will be a “game changer for the Tanzania banking sector,” he added.

ABT is being rebranded as Selcom Microfinance Bank Tanzania.

Digital leap

Tanzania has a robust microfinance sector, but small businesses have few accessible or affordable options for financing one they graduate beyond microfinance. CRDB Bank is one of the few mainstream banks to offer tailored small business financing via its SME Bidii loan product.

A new fund from Accion is helping traditional micro- and rural finance institutions give their systems a digital upgrade, similar to how Selcom is supporting ABT.