MasterCard Foundation’s Fund for Rural Prosperity has awarded five companies more than US $10.6 million to bolster their innovative work to alleviate poverty by increasing access to financial services for poor people in rural Africa. The five companies introduced imaginative thinking in their approach to scaling up financial inclusion – the increase in access to services such as mobile banking, savings accounts, insurance and credit – for the benefit of nearly eight million people in remote parts of Africa.
The Fund for Rural Prosperity also announced the opening of its 2016 Scaling Competition, a search for other companies that are working to broaden and deepen financial inclusion at scale in rural Africa.
(TOP: The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity 2015 winners from left : Jesse Moore, CEO and Co-Founder, M-KOPA; John Kigochi, Chief Finance Officer, APA Insurance; Jeremy Dufour, Environment and Social Manager, Olam Uganda; Rewa Misra, Senior Program Manager, Financial Inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation (c); James Unyutta, CEO, Musoni Kenya and Ronald Webb, Finserve Africa/Equitel, Group Director of Payments).
The five firms that will receive more than US $10.6 million under the 2015 Fund for Rural Prosperity Scaling Competition are APA Insurance Limited, Finserve Africa Limited (Equitel), M-KOPA, Musoni Kenya Limited and Olam Uganda Limited.
“There were many impressive companies that entered this competition with proposals to scale up their work and make a real difference in the financial lives of people living in poverty,” said Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion & Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation. “These five, however, displayed an innovative approach backed by a solid business proposal and a commitment to excellence that convinced us to support their efforts.”
As a result of the five awards announced today, nearly eight million people in rural areas of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda will have access to formal financial services by 2020. Financial inclusion has been shown to improve peoples’ lives through greater access to health, education and employment opportunities.
Nick Hughes, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder, M-KOPA, said that “M-KOPA Labs is delighted to be partnering with The MasterCard Foundation to explore new ways to deliver credit services to rural customers and farmers in Tanzania, many of whom live beyond the grid and without access to financial services. The project with The MasterCard Foundation will be aimed at helping more low income Tanzanians to access clean energy, agricultural inputs and financial services.”
The Fund for Rural Prosperity has two competition categories:
* Innovation: In 2015, a total of US$15 million was made available to support new financial products as well as savings groups, micro-insurance and other inclusive finance systems for the rural poor. Nearly US$7 million was awarded in the first Innovation Competition last year.
* Scaling: In 2015, a total of US$35 million was made available to provide financial support for promising ideas that expand services and improve financial inclusion for smallholder farmers. Initial awards totalling more than US$10.6 are being made today in the first Scaling Competition.
The Fund for Rural Prosperity is managed by KPMG International Development Advisory Services, Africa.
The 2016 competition will be open from April 14 to June 10, 2016. Applications will be accepted from anywhere in the world but must be implemented in one or more of eight countries of focus in Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia).
“Last year, we were very impressed by the quality and originality of applications received for the Fund for Rural Prosperity’s first Scaling Competition,” said Ann Miles. “This year, we expect to see proposals from companies active in financial services, including those working in fintech, insurance and along the agro-industry value chain. The goal remains the same – to enable larger numbers of people to be part of the formal financial sector in their countries.”
The majority of rural households in Africa remain financially excluded. As well, over 70 percent of families in Sub-Saharan Africa derive a large portion of their income from agricultural activities. Financial service providers meet several challenges in reaching this population. High costs of doing business, lack of staff know-how and inflexible business structures impede efforts to expand appropriate financial products and services that would enable rural poor people and smallholder farmers to become financially included. The MasterCard Foundation aims to support projects that have the potential to make a positive difference.
More information, including 2016 Scaling Competition application forms, guidance notes and details on eligible countries are available on the website.