The last decade of microfinance practice, particularly in East Africa, has neglected rural finance. Support to the sector has concentrated on turning credit programmes into sustainable microfinance institutions (MFIs). The result of this has been a focus on small-scale businesses and especially traders, who can manage these relatively inflexible products, and consequently also a concentration of their activities in urban environments and market centres. At the same time there is evidence of innovation in Kenya in the form of managed ASCA programmes, Financial Service Associations and the emergence of ‘non-traditional’ SACCOs. This paper describes models of provision in Kenya that are reaching remoter areas or appear to have the potential to do so; analyses the characteristics of these models and presents the outline of an action research project to promote rural financial service provision.