ECONOMY - SCIENCES & NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Economize through the clouds

Over the last decade the number of individuals in Africa with access to a mobile phone has risen dramatically, reaching almost 75% in many areas. Simultaneously, mobile money transfer services have become increasingly popular, shaping how people access basic financial services across the developing world. Because more than one billion people in the world do not have access to a bank account. Microfinance can make a difference.

Microfinance is the provision of financial services to the unbanked and underbanked. This can include providing access to credit or a safe place to store savings, as well as more advanced products such as micro-insurance or money transfer services. Access to financial services such as these allow individuals to smooth consumption, to better cope with shocks, to manage risk, or invest in their businesses and improve their living conditions.

Musoni started with a simple idea – that microfinance could be revolutionized through the use of mobile technology. Musoni Kenya was founded in 2009, the first 100% mobile microfinance institution in the world. Today, the company has established five branches, serves over 10.000 clients and has disbursed loans with a combined value of over $15m to Kenyan micro entrepreneurs. While Musoni Kenya grew, the Musoni team in Amsterdam continued to improve the model, adding new features to its IT platform such as an SMS module and the Musoni app, enabling Wealth Creation Officers (Musoni’s loan officers) to register clients and complete loan applications in the field. In addition to being cashless, the app improves the efficiency of the core microfinance processes, improves the quality of data captured in the system, and makes it easier for loan officers to operate independently of the branches. All applications are now automatically processed by a Digital Credit Committee which has large potential to further improve the efficiency and reduce the risk of operations, increasing the number of automated decisions, and enforcing internal rules and guidelines.

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Rural clients