Pensioners and employees
In 2010 Opportunity Bank Serbia (OBS) has made a decision to include private individuals as one of its target groups. This important strategic move enabled OBS to reach more underserved clients in rural areas, especially women as a group of clients that Opportunity International (OI) is especially focused on. Traditionally in Serbia, women are not owners of businesses or farms (share of women business-owners in Serbia is under 25% while the share of women holders of registered agricultural households in Serbia is only 8%). Therefore, women are not often the ones who will be business/agro loan beneficiaries in banks and MFIs in Serbia, as the laws oblige financial institutions to disburse loans exclusively to farm and business owners/directors. Loans for individuals enable OBS to serve more women and to help them to transform their and lives of their children and other family members.
Second group of clients that OBS started serving after introducing loans for private individuals are the elderly in the rural areas. Banks in Serbia are focused mainly on the urban areas and the middle-class population, while they are very rarely present in remote rural Serbian villages. And what is typical of these areas are households where several generations cohabitate, in most cases having just one or two regular monthly incomes which in most cases – is pension. Pensioner loans are the only chance for these non-commercial rural households to acquire additional funding for any life improving activities – children’s education, health care services or improvement of housing. Sometimes, these loans are used to start a small agro start-up production in order to provide additional source of income. Loans for individuals enable OBS to serve more rural households that rely on pensions as their main source of income and to help them to transform their and lives of their household members.