The focus of this idea is to tap into existing religious communities to use them as a means for create greater financial inclusion. Rather than creating new communities to provide financial services or education we could use a pre-existing (and potentially powerful!) local community.
Religious practice is a regular habit for many which provides a pattern of physical behavior and thought that could potentially be re-purposed (enhanced?) toward financial inclusion.
One of the major challenges identified in the research phase was that poverty is a "mindset" driven by short-term thinking. Inserting financial education into a religious context, when users may be more likely to think of their long-term (eternal?) condition, may be a way to circumvent this.
One obstacle with using religion is that it varies so much from location to location. Therefore, what works in one context may not work in another. Some preliminary ideas for how this idea might be expressed are below, but ideas from OpenIDEO members around the world would be necessary to help refine it!
Using a religious building (and staff?) as a "savings and loan" for members of the faith community who don't have access to a bank and savings accounts;
Low-cost loans for members of a religious community to one another;
Using the regularity and frequency of religious meetings/ceremonies as a a touch-point for financial services;
Resources for religious leaders to include financial education in their interactions with believers;
Using major gatherings such as religious festivals as a time/location for financial education.