Additional funding from Whole Planet Foundation (WPF) grows the partnership with Aga Khan Development Network for mobile microfinance solutions and improving the options for families in West Africa. In one of the world’s poorest regions, WPF and its partners are exploring how to use mobile technology to expand savings services to communities to help them get through seasonal cashflow crunches.
The grant builds on WPF’s 2013 agreement with Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. (AKF USA) and the Première Agence de Microfinance (PAMF, or First Microfinance Agency) in Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire). The agreement focuses on increasing the number of loans that PAMF provides to clients in the rural north. The first two disbursements, totaling $200,000 in grant funds, have already been made and 500 families have received group solidarity loans in over a dozen villages around Korhogo and Boundiali. Most clients are involved in agriculture and use the funds for activities such as storing and marketing cashew nuts and other crops. Nearly half of the loan recipients are women. The project’s third $100,000 grant disbursement is scheduled for January 2015. By the close of the three-year project, the target is to bring access to credit to an additional 1,220 clients through WPF support.
The additional $150,000 – complemented by $30,000 from AKF USA — takes PAMF a step further toward better microfinance options for communities in northern Ivory Coast. Specifically, it will increase access to savings for 5,000 new rural families beyond the reach of conventional financial institutions. For this, PAMF is partnering with a major mobile network provider in Ivory Coast to create a system that these clients can use to access their bank accounts. This project establishes the foundation of the mobile network from which PAMF can expand to offer both savings and credit services in the future.
This grant will not only help PAMF provide deposit services to its clients in Ivory Coast, but it will also support development of similar products in Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Mali. Access to microcredit helps low-income clients, both smallholder farmers and micro-entrepreneurs. PAMF is one of the few microfinance institutions working with farmers in northern Ivory Coast.
“This marks the first contribution the Whole Planet Foundation has made in our Africa portfolio to this kind of effort,” says Brian Doe, Whole Planet Foundation’s Regional Director for Africa/Middle East. “The mobile interface and its potential are very exciting.”
The $30,000 from AKF USA will support market research to ensure the new mobile finance product is developed in a way that meets the clients’ long-term needs.
These loans make a tremendous difference to families that face a cash shortage before their harvest is ready. Now these farmers may be able to use their mobile phones to ease that crunch, without having to travel many miles to the nearest bank. Think of that when you make your next phone call or a wireless donation to Whole Planet Foundation.