Today at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, CGAP, Grameen Foundation, and MTN Uganda announced plans to introduce a new initiative to research and develop mobile financial products for the poor. CGAP, an independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world’s poor, together with MTN and Grameen Foundation will provide US$1 million in financing to this initiative. The aim is to build upon the extensive research already conducted through Grameen Foundation’s Application Laboratory (AppLab) in Uganda and to leverage MTN’s successful Mobile Money service.
Access to financial services can help the poor smooth their income and invest in productive assets, education and health services. However, 2.7 billion people – most of whom live in developing countries – still do not have a bank account. This gap is due to two major challenges: Many low-income communities are underserved by financial institutions, and the products offered by these institutions are more suitable for higher-income clientele. The growth of mobile money is helping address the access issue, but there is still a need for product offerings that are appropriate for low-income consumers.
The goal of the initiative is to drive the next wave of innovation in the mobile money space by researching and developing products that are both appropriate for poor clients and commercially viable for the financial service providers involved.
“To achieve our goal of financial inclusion for all, the industry needs to move beyond mobile payments and provide a full array of pro-poor mobile financial products,” said Tilman Ehrbeck, CEO of CGAP.
“This collaboration with CGAP and MTN Uganda will enable us to lead the next wave of product innovation to truly serve poor people’s needs – a goal that is at the very core of Grameen Foundation,” said Alex Counts, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation.
“MTN is committed to being innovative and relevant to its customers, particularly in this increasingly competitive global market. This partnership will ensure that we are able to address the needs of our customers in the rural market by enabling them to access otherwise inaccessible financial services. This in turn will ensure that the rural poor have better access to other social services, such as education, health and investment opportunities,” said Themba Khumalo, CEO MTN Uganda.
CGAP is an independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world’s poor. It is supported by more than 30 development agencies and private foundations that share a common mission to alleviate poverty. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP provides market intelligence, promotes standards, develops innovative solutions and offers advisory services to governments, microfinance providers, donors and investors. The Technology Program at CGAP is co-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CGAP, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). More at www.cgap.org/technology.
About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, helps the world’s poorest people – especially women – lift themselves out of poverty by providing access to small loans and other financial services, life-changing information and unique business opportunities. Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation has offices in Washington, DC; Seattle, WA; Colombia; Ghana; Hong Kong; the Philippines; and Uganda. Microfinance pioneer Prof. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, is a founding member of its Board of Directors, and now serves as director emeritus. For more information, please visit grameenfoundation.org.
About MTN GROUP
Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a multinational telecommunications group operating in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code “MTN.” MTN has more than 100 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. For more information, please visit www.mtn.com.