Since 2003, Grameen Foundation has been designing and delivering mobile solutions that address the critical needs of the poor. Mobile phones reach more than 4 billion people in the developing world, making mobile the most promising, cost-effective channel for ensuring that poor and rural populations have financial services. We design next-generation mobile money products, develop applications and software, and build networks that enable community-based shops and distributors to serve as banking agents.
The AppLab Incubator, headquartered in Uganda, is our innovation lab for testing and scaling the next generation of breakthrough products and services that are tailored to meet the needs and interests of the poor. We help private sector partners understand the characteristics and needs of the poor and also help build, test and deliver solutions into the hands of users in some of the poorest regions in the world.
Through the CGAP MTN Innovation initiative, we worked with MTN Uganda, that country’s largest telecommunications company, to build financial products to be delivered via the mobile money channel to Uganda’s poor. Funded by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the initiative focused on analyzing the financial behavior of potential customers and then testing prototypes of applications.
Another collaborative effort with Barclays Bank, the Barclays Innovation Project, is designed to sustainably provide mobile financial services to poor households through Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). The project builds upon Barclay’s current work with VSLAs through Banking on Change, a partnership between Plan UK, CARE International UK, and Barclays that aims to increase access to basic financial services in disadvantaged communities.
With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we are also fostering partnerships between banks and mobile network operators in Uganda so that financial products can be deployed via the mobile money channel. In 2013, we began working with Pride Microfinance and Centenary Bank to test and incubate products and accelerate their delivery to poor customers.
Through our work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Uganda, we are collaborating with the MTN Group, Africa’s leading telecommunications provider, to create new products and improve services to speed up the delivery of affordable, accessible and appropriate financial products to the rural poor.
We are working with CARD Bank to pilot and deploy a mobile banking service for its savings and credit operations through a network of independent bank agents. Clients will be able to access services using a mobile wallet—a simple electronic wallet designed for the mobile phone. This new operating model will reduce CARD Bank’s operating costs, while improving convenience for its poor clients.
Musoni is a microfinance institution based in Nairobi that provides a fully automated, mobile phone-based banking service. This service allows the bank’s clients to receive financing and make repayments over the mobile phone. With support from MasterCard Worldwide, we are helping Musoni expand its services to rural areas, use the Progress out of Poverty Index® to collect and analyze data about its clients, and strengthen its operations.