Partnership has Potential to Reach Nearly One Million Low-Income Consumers

MetLife Foundation announced today a three-year partnership with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) and Bankable Frontier Associates, LLC (BFA) to develop Optimizing Performance Through Improved Cross(X)-Sell (OPTIX), a program to provide microfinance institutions and cooperatives with a breadth of financial tools that can assist them to better serve their clients.

The microfinance institutions and cooperatives include: Cooperativa Acreimex in Mexico, Banco WWB in Colombia, SAJIDA Foundation in Bangladesh and Capital Aid Fund for Employment of the Poor (CEP) in Vietnam. OPTIX will assist these four “socially-driven” financial service providers build and strengthen a full suite of financial offerings for their low-income clients. Cross-selling a variety of financial products may ensure client retention, secure their niche against larger competitors and allow them to meet the particular needs of the market segments they serve.

“Our partners have proven experience reaching low-income customers with a variety of savings and credit products. This unique partnership and learning model will allow these organizations to broaden their overall financial portfolios, which should help them become more sustainable. MetLife Foundation is excited to be a part of this initiative because of its ability to meet nearly one million clients’ holistic financial needs, and increase the sustainability of the institution serving them,” said Dennis White, president & chief executive officer of MetLife Foundation.

Low-income households in the developing world face a triple-threat when managing their financial well-being. Their incomes are not only low but also irregular and unpredictable. Because of this they need to manage their cash flows more actively than better-off households. In this situation, underserved households generally require a broad array of financial tools.

BFA, in partnership with RPA, will build a set of tools to effectively help institutions’ strategic and tactical thinking about how to improve cross-sell through a three step process:

  • Design analytical frameworks to test and define opportunities to increase cross-sell
  • Develop the cross-sell strategy using client insights
  • Implement, monitor and reevaluate the cross-sell strategy

“In markets where increasingly more institutions are looking to go down market and target low-income clients, financial institutions already focused on the low-income segment hold great advantage. However, we know that the profit margins of providing a single product to the poor are extremely thin; acquisition and servicing costs are high. New branchless banking methods show promise in bringing down the costs of transactions, but client engagement methods must be more targeted and demand cross-selling more than one product is important to better serve clients sustainably. BFA is looking forward to partnering with the selected institutions to optimize their client-centric cross-sell strategies,” said Daryl Collins, managing director of BFA and author of Portfolios of the Poor.

Using a client-centric approach, OPTIX looks to maximize outcomes for the institutions as well as their clients. Each institution will have access to various “tools” to support the development and implementation of their cross-sell strategies. The tools include:

  • Action research (data analytics, business case analysis, quantitative and qualitative client research)
  • Grant funding
  • Peer support network and bilateral exchanges
  • Technical assistance
  • Leveraging MetLife corporate staff skills

“The benefits of access to secure, affordable financial products continue to elude millions of low-income individuals around the world. However, improvements in technology and greater philanthropic partnerships across sectors open promising new pathways to alleviating poverty and to bringing critical financial to underserved populations,” said Chris Page, senior vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. “OPTIX provides a great opportunity to test out new technologies and innovative methods with strong, socially-minded microfinance institutions, and we look forward to working closely with our partners MetLife and BFA in the search for innovative solutions.”

This initiative will provide greater knowledge for the broader financial inclusion community and will enable practitioners to implement strategies and products that are scalable and sustainable to better serve the needs of low-income customers around the world.

About MetLife Foundation 
MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since its founding through the end of 2014, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $670 million in grants and $70 million in program-related investments to organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit