SPECIAL REPORT: Zemidjam Motorbike Drivers in Benin, Civil Service Retirees in Senegal Participate in Human-centered Design of Mobile Money Products

During the closing day of European Microfinance Week, European Microfinance Week 2017 Karima Wardak of the UN Capital Development Fund argued that copying digital financial services from country to country is not working. The same is true of country-specific “products that were designed in board rooms,” she said. Gilda Zarate Chabluk of Innate Motion, a consultancy with staff in 27 countries, launched the discussion of how concepts of human-centered design can sidestep these problems. All staff involved in a project should observe and talk to end-users early in the design process. She suggests a meeting at the home of the end-user that lasts about two hours, with most of that time focused on the user’s life rather than the product. The idea is to create the product with the users not for the

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Telma Introduces Mvola Mobile Loans, Savings in Madagascar

Telma Mobile, a Madagascar-based telecommunications company, recently rolled out the Mvola Avance and Epargne products, which offer loans and savings services, respectively, through the pre-existing Mvola mobile money service. With Mvola Avance, customers can borrow from MGA 1,000 to MGA 500,000 (USD 0.30 to USD 157) for

SPECIAL REPORT: Finding Markets First, Adding Value Post-harvest to Engage Youth in Agriculture

At European Microfinance Week on Thursday,European Microfinance Week 2017 Ken Lohento of the Netherlands-based Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation described successes engaging youth in agriculture through technology, even those with limited literacy. This can take the form of business tools to track spending or marketing as well as apps that help with pest management, for example. Even older “feature phones” can be used to receive information on markets and tips to optimize production. Among other efforts, Mr Lohento cited Agribusiness TV, which provides mobile-optimized video examples of youth profiting from agriculture, and a service in Senegal that connects owners of underused land with young people looking for acreage to till.

Dr Jonathan Agwe of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) stated that youth rarely are motivated to engage in the planting and weeding of primary agriculture. “Certain elements of the value chain are more interesting to youth than others,” he said. Youth are more interested in secondary activities that are less labor-intensive, such as using machinery to process crops or vehicles to get products to market. Dr Agwe suggests first “locating a market that is paying premium prices” and then

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Mastercard, Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda Partnering on Digital Payments for Agriculture, Education, Health and Trade

Mastercard, a US-based payment processing company, and Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda, an NGO funded by the UK Department for International Development, recently entered a memorandum of understanding to create

SPECIAL REPORT: Rural Outreach and Innovation Action Group Highlights Apps, Soil Test Kits, Funding Agricultural Cooperatives

On European Microfinance Week 2017the first afternoon of European Microfinance Week, the European Microfinance Platform’s (e-MFP’s) Rural Outreach & Innovation Action Group presented a range of services that are reaching rural areas today.

Amsalu Alemayehu of Ethiopia’s Wasasa Microfinance explained that his organization has been financing agricultural cooperatives for about five years and how this can be an efficient method for serving a large number of people. However, the number of cooperatives Wasasa serves remains small. Mr Alemayehu explained that many of the 78,000 cooperatives in Ethiopia are member-managed and need significant capacity building to become creditworthy.

Marina Kortenbusch of Switzerland’s Business & Finance Consulting (BFC), who is also the chair of the Action Group, spoke passionately about

MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: Digital Wallets for Illiterate Customers in India, Agency Banking in Africa, Gender Equality in Financial Services

“Digital Wallet Adoption for the Oral Segment in India: Concept Development for MoWo (Mobile Wallet for Oral);” by Brett Hudson Matthews, Richa Valechha, Vivek Anand, Avantika Kushwaha, Saborni Poddar and Rachit Ohri; published by MicroSave; May 2017; 50 pages, available at:

http://www.microsave.net/files/pdf/DWA_Research_Concept_Development_for_MoWO.pdf

The authors describe a project conducted during 2016 in India on the Mobile Wallet for Oral (MoWo), a mobile-money service designed for the “oral” market segment, which includes 264 million people in the country who have low reading-skill levels. A group of 310 participants from various communities were subjected to “signing, reading and numeracy” tests. Thereafter, 138 people of varying literacy levels participated in focus groups on the user interface of the mobile wallet. Finally, 29 participants performed usability testing.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Alternative Credit Scorers Lenddo, Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL) Merge

Two organizations that facilitate lending to people and small businesses with limited credit histories, US-based Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL) and Singapore-based Lenddo, recently merged. Prior to the merger, the organizations had completed a total of 5 million

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: FINCA Microfinance Bank of Tanzania Rolls Out HaloYako Mobile Savings Product

The Tanzanian affiliate of the US-based Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International) recently began offering a service called HaloYako that allows people to open savings accounts via mobile phones. There is no fee to use the service or maintain the associated account. In fact, customers can earn

MICROFINANCE EVENT: 14th Annual Global Microfinance Forum; March 15-16, 2018; Munich, Germany

Event Name: 14th Annual Global Microfinance Forum

Event Date: March 15 – March 16, 2018

Event Location: Munich, Germany

Summary of Event: This conference will include sessions on microleasing, “green” microcredit, managing foreign exchange risk, crowdfunding, serving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), technology, leveraging guarantees

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Alternative Credit Scoring Firm MicroMoney, Peer-lending Platform Karma Partner to Promote Financial Inclusion

Singapore-based alternative credit scoring firm MicroMoney and Netherlands-domiciled peer-lending NGO Karma recently announced a partnership to work toward their shared “mission to help billions of people to be financially included” in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. MicroMoney will access repayment data from

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company Linking 8 MFIs to United Bank’s “UBL Omni” Branchless Banking Service

United Bank Limited (UBL), a Karachi-based commercial bank, and the Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company (PMIC), an organization funded by the governments of the UK and Germany, recently reached an agreement through which PMIC will link eight of its partner microfinance institutions (MFIs)

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Nestlé, Telenor Microfinance Bank Providing Digital Loans to Farmers in Pakistan

The Pakistani subsidiary of Switzerland-based food company Nestlé recently partnered with Telenor Microfinance Bank Limited, a Pakistani branch of Norway’s Telenor Group, to provide microloans to its dairy farmer suppliers via Telenor Microfinance’s mobile wallet service, Easypaisa. The program reportedly uses a “digital credit score card and analytics, thus considerably reducing

SPECIAL REPORT: Innovations in Fintech, Human Resources Development at SAM (Semaine Africaine de la Microfinance)

At SAM Conference 2017, Addis Ababa, Ethiopiathe SAM (Semaine Africaine de la Microfinance) conference in Addis Ababa, a wide variety of vendors presented their wares. Among these were several core banking system providers. Antonio Separovic of Oradian previously had set the stage for the conversation at the fintech (financial technology) session organized by Dutch development bank FMO. He argued that microfinance institutions (MFIs) shouldn’t start by thinking about whether to buy a new system, but about where the MFI wants to go and how to get there. “Fintech may be able to reduce the friction to do these things,” he said.

Cameron Goldie-Scot of Musoni agreed: “It’s about what are the challenges in your organization? Is it too expensive to handle cash in rural areas? Do you have trouble getting

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Social Impact Hub Introduces Library of Potential Impact Investments in Australia

The Impact Investing Hub, a student-led project connecting investors to potential impact investments, recently created a Current Deals Library to provide greater access to information on opportunities that are meant to pay off financially as well as