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Financial Inclusion in Rwanda: Examining policy implementation and impact on community and household lives



Change log


Lichtenstein, Jane 


ABSTRACT Financial inclusion in Rwanda: examining policy implementation and impact on community and household lives The research question asks: “Is the policy for financial inclusion in Rwanda explicit, appropriate and effective?” The Government of Rwanda targets ‘financial inclusion’ for 80% of the population of Rwanda by 2017. The study considers what financial inclusion means, how policy has captured it, and whether policy implementation reaches the grassroots – and with what effect. Chapter 1 introduces the research study. Chapter 2 gives background to Rwanda’s development, the strategic policy cycle and planning processes, the accessibility of policy detail, and the aspiration for economic transformation to be a ‘middle income’ country by 2020. Professionalising public service, and the role of Rwanda’s leadership are considered, as are Rwanda’s demographic challenges. Chapter 3 reviews literature relevant to Rwanda’s development and to financial inclusion in development. It explores the ‘livelihoods’ analytic framework. Chapter 4 outlines methods and methodological approaches to this study. A ‘grounded theory’ approach is used and a mixed methods approach is applied to the data. The four data chapters (Chapters 5, 6 7, and 8) draw on voices of people involved in financial inclusion policy. In Chapter 5, villagers speak, via a household survey, about good things in their lives, challenges they face, and their actual livelihood activities. They explain their engagement with financial services, and discuss the role of asset ownership. In Chapter 6 senior policy makers speak of vision and pragmatism in financial inclusion policy, and their own rationale for supporting the policy. Chapter 7 focuses on voices at the mid-level of implementation: District level civil servants, cooperative managers, branch bank-managers. All describe challenges and achievements, explaining their personal route to this career position. Chapter 8 returns to grassroots, hearing voices of farmers (in groups and individually), using real lives to show impacts and limitations of the policy. Chapter 9 draws conclusions from the study: the impact of the policy for financial inclusion; the role of central and local leadership; the wider insights allowed into the nature of inclusive development; and the significance of Rwanda’s ‘Home Grown Solutions’. The study proposes a wider use of the livelihoods analytical framework as an aid to understanding transformation at diverse levels in development.





Fennell, Shailaja


Financial inclusion, rural development, livelihoods, home grown solutions


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge