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Services Addressing Wealth Inequality in Africa

Services Addressing Wealth Inequality in AfricaMore mobile phones than ever before have been making their way to countries in need and enabling financial inclusion, which is so essential to eliminating poverty.

In Africa, periods of drought can take a significant toll on communities that depend on their agricultural workers and cause widespread wealth inequality. Thanks to the distribution of mobile technologies, farmers can now open accounts.

Wired’s Marguerite McNeal reports, “In Kenya, a whopping 59 percent of the adult population actively uses mobile money services, with transactions of $2.2 billion per month”.

Also, out of the 89 countries in the world where money services are available, the greatest impact is being made in Africa where roughly 12 percent of adults now have mobile bank accounts creating greater financial stability.

World Remit

This money transfer company was the brainchild of Ismail Ahmed. The idea of World Remit came to him while at university. He was always having to travel long distances and pay fees to send money to his family in Africa. In 2010, World Remit became a reality.

“Subscribers send and receive payments directly on their phones, and pay far less in transfer fees — about 4 percent, compared to as much as 12 percent through a traditional service like Western Union.” This system allows for better transfer services and gives families greater income stability.

Tigo Wekeza

The 3.5 million customers that rely on Tigo Pesa money services can now receive interest on their funds through Tigo Wekeza. “Customers do not need to register separately in order to benefit and any returns due are paid directly into their Tigo Pesa wallet.

If a customer so chooses, they can nominate a nonprofit beneficiary instead.” Customers are offered interest rates between 7 and 9 percent, and no other financial authority has offered like provisions. President and CEO of Millicom, Hans-Holger Albrecht, commended the company on its extension of financial inclusion.

EcoFarmer

Since its 10 year recession, 70 percent of residents of Zimbabwe depend on agricultural workers for economic recovery. EcoFarmer is the first micro-insurance policy in Zimbabwe, and it ensures inputs against both drought and high rainfall.

“Using mobile money, subscribers pay 8 cents a day for 125 days and are guaranteed a harvest or at least $100 for every 10 kilograms of seed they plant, regardless of weather conditions.” Farmers also receive tips, such as technical information, market information, weather conditions, and so much more that they can use in order to produce the greatest yield.

Bima

Based in Stockholm, this insurance provider allows its customers in Ghana to register for life insurance at 2 cents a day and also manage risk to prevent financial instability all from mobile devices. Bima provides family care, hospital stays and more recently, telemedicine services.

“We believe that every consumer deserves choice, value and quality of service, regardless of their income level.” Also, this company doesn’t run on just technology. It also provides essential education for consumers, and more than 90 percent of registrations are made in person in order to prevent error.

Anna Brailow

Sources: BIMA, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, Millicom, Wired, World Remit
Photo: Flickr