The rural poor can save, although commercial banks are rarely able to mobilize these savings in financial form. Rural credit demand is also high, not only to survive drought and other periodic disasters but also to help move out of poverty through investments that improve productivity and tap into economic opportunities. Yet the high perceived costs and risks of intermediation have deterred formal financial institutions from serving the rural poor. The experience of the World Bank-assisted Rural Savings and Loan Project in Benin shows that well-designed investment in grass roots financial institutions can fill this gap on a sustainable basis.
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