Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC) has a long and global history to look at, that finds its foundations in the first bilateral cooperations of single Savings Banks with partner institutions around the globe. After the fall of the iron curtain and the break-up of the Soviet Union, Central and Eastern European countries increasingly requested support in financial sector development. The Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe responded to this international demand for its expertise and experience by founding the Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation (Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation, short SBFIC) in 1992.
Since that time, the Savings Banks Foundation is actively supporting financial institutions, promoting a sustainable economic and social development at local, regional and national level by enabling its partner institutions to offer banking services that are tailored to the needs of the target groups.
In East Africa, Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation began its activities in 2008. Since that time, SBFIC has partnered with the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda (AMIR) intending to professionalize the microfinance sector in Rwanda. In 2012, the project activities extended to Burundi by entering into a cooperation with the Burundian microfinance umbrella organization, Réseau des Institutions de Microfinance (RIM). A Tanzanian SBFIC project was set up in 2012, partnering with the Tanzanian Association of Microfinance Institutions (TAMFI) as well as the Tanzania Postal Bank (TPB Bank PLC).
In 2013, SBFIC assisted in the foundation of an academy for vocational education (RICEM) in Rwanda, which is a close partner until today. In 2014, closely related activities in the three neighboring countries have been united as a regional project to generate synergies, institutionalize knowledge transfer and efficiently use human and technical capacities. Since 2015, SBFIC East Africa supports a state-initiated project to professionalize the U-SACCOS with consultancy services together with other institutions like RCA. With the number of projects and the assigned tasks growing, the focus is nowadays on the professionalization of the microfinance sector, vocational education and financial literacy/ financial inclusion of the lower income strata.
Since its foundation in 1992, SBFIC has implemented more than 200 projects in over 80 countries worldwide. More than 2,000 Sparkassen employees have been deployed on project assignments and over 200 permanent staff members are today working to promote financial inclusion - and their numbers are growing.