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Mastercard names 9 Africa projects for $9-million fund

The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity (FRP) has announced that nine companies from seven countries will receive more than US$9 million to support projects that expand financial inclusion in rural Africa.



2017/2018 Rolling Competition: Phase #1 Selected Companies


Company Description

Primary Project Country FRP Support
(in US$)
Equity Bank Congo Agency Banking Project

ProCredit Bank Congo SA plans to contribute to the expansion and

revolutionary transformation of financial services inclusion by replication of an agency banking model throughout DRC. ProCredit Bank Congo SA will leverage technology (e.g., mobile banking), roll out new highly researched financial products and services, and develop a high level of customer service and emotional bonds with customers.


It also will develop unique business models (e.g., agency branchless banking) to revolutionize and deepen financial access to unbanked and under-banked populations in DRC, especially in rural areas where the majority of the population resides.

Democratic Republic of Congo 1,500,641
Apollo Agriculture Remote Sensing and Machine Learning for Smallholder Finance at Scale

Apollo offers a customized package of farm inputs and advice on credit to rural farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers receive the package at planting and repay slowly until harvest, when loans are due. Apollo’s digital approach enables low costs and rapid scaling. Apollo acquires and enrolls customers digitally; credit-rates them automatically using high-resolution satellite imagery and behavioural, psychometric, and agronomic data; collects repayments using mobile money; and trains farmers on best practices via automated voice calls (“IVR”).


Apollo’s low-cost, low-touch model has the potential to scale-up rapidly to increase the incomes of millions of smallholders.

Kenya 1,085,000
Dodore Kenya Limited Agri-wallet

Agri-wallet, developed by Dodore, is a savings scheme to enable farmers to save for farm inputs and increase their agriculture production and income.

Agri-wallet includes two unique and innovative savings features: (1) automatic contributions, and (2) restricted spending.


Agri-wallet offers farmers a solution to problems such as lack of savings, mixing of personal and business funds, slow payments from buyers and diversion of funds, and lack of credit access. Agri-wallet uses technological innovations similar to blockchain, combined with social value chain integration and business process innovations like micro-transactions and lean production, to reduce complexity and process

costs. Agri-wallet has the potential to transform the rural financial landscape as it fundamentally changes how smallholders save and borrow for farm inputs, pertinent for their farming activities.


Kenya 1,000,000
Easy Solar Limited Innovative Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) Financing Adapted to the BoP Market in Sierra Leone

Easy Solar has an innovative solution to finance previously un-bankable customers. The company uses the sale of an entry-level solar lamp on a rent-to-own payment plan to build customer relations and density. The lamp repayment history allows for credit scoring and deep customer knowledge before selling higher value solar and other life-changing products on terms affordable to “bottom of the pyramid” customers.


Easy Solar’s tiered PAYG financing solution, backed by credit scoring-based on customer data to make its products accessible to “bottom of the pyramid” (BoP) customers, is very innovative in Sierra Leone. It allows the company to get to know its customers (and vice versa) and create customer density, thus making solar home systems and other products accessible and affordable to remote and low-income households and micro-enterprises.


Sierra Leone 588,474
FutureLink Technologies Limited MSACCO ScaleUp: Leveraging the Relevance and Outreach of SACCOs to Minimize the Cost and Accelerate the Adoption and Usage of Digital Financial Services Channels in Rural Communities

FutureLink Technologies is scaling up the adoption and usage of MSACCO. MSACCO is a mobile banking switch that enables thousands of members of SACCOs to transact with their respective SACCO accounts and to deposit and withdraw check account balances and mini-statements through their phones and ATMs.

The project aims to boost financial inclusion by improving access, transparency, and convenience to SACCO members, and extending “bank-like” financial services channels to underserved farmer communities across Uganda. Additionally, it will extend the most cost-effective financial services channel to the target population.

Uganda 700,000
SolarNow Services Limited Modern Off-grid Farmer Financing (MOFF)

SolarNow has seen a strong demand for agri-related financing after selling more than 160 solar water pumps in Uganda. To meet this demand and reduce the financial barrier for farmers to invest in agricultural products, SolarNow has fully tailored a flexible pay-plan scheduled to the seasonal cash flows of farmers. For agricultural appliances, flexible down payments and installments will be defined based on production and cash flow records of farmers.

SolarNow aims to offer innovative payment plans tailored to seasonality, launched through its existing in-house finance vehicle and embedded in rural areas through the presence of its branch network.

Uganda 739,454



2017/2018 Rolling Competition: Phase #2 Selected Companies


Company Description

Primary Project Country FRP Support
(in US$)
Farmerline Limited


399 Services: Information and Innovative Finance for Improved Input Distribution

Farmerline leverages innovative mobile technology to extend access to financial services, information, and high-quality input directly to farmers resulting in increased yields and incomes. Farmers will need to dial the USSD code “399” on any of the top mobile networks in Ghana to access the service. Farmerline presents the farmers with an opportunity to receive genuine and affordable agri-inputs through credit or savings (lay-away), financial literacy content, climate-smart agricultural tips and weather forecasts, as well as weekly updates on market prices.

Ghana 692,000
Microcred Energy Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) and Digital Finance to Reach Off-grid Farmers in Mali

To offer financial inclusion to off-grid customers in Mali, Microcred will provide PAYG energy. PAYG energy will offer clients a first leasing experience, based on energetic savings realized thanks to the solar product. Then, once they become owners of their solar product, they will become eligible for a digital loan with Microcred Mali. This project will help farmers improve their daily lives by accessing a quality solar product. An optional tablet may be included in the pack to offer rural farmers a way to access key data (weather, the retail price of their products, names of potential buyers, or where to buy their seeds) to help them improve their productivity and revenue. The digital loan will be able to develop their agricultural activities.


Mali 900,000
Stewards Globe Integrating Credit and Marketing in the Supply Chain for Smallholder Financial Inclusion

The financial solution is an integrated supply chain financing model that incorporates input microcredit and insurance with an assured offtake market supported by a “common” mobile platform connecting farmers to financing and buyers. Stewards Globe Limited, along with Good Fellow Finance, Mayfair Insurance, and Export Trading Limited, intends to implement a well-organized supply chain finance to reach underserved yet economically active smallholder farmers. The objective is to improve the access of rural farmers to the formal credit system and increase farmer productivity and income while offering credit, technical capacity-building extension services, financial literacy, and linkages to agricultural markets in a cost-effective and sustainable manner using producer groups.


Zambia 1,800,200





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Africa News

Africa phones go flat

Africa’s mobile phone market declined 2.1% quarter on quarter in Q3 2018 according to the latest figures from IDC.



The global technology research and consulting firm newly released Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows overall shipments for the quarter totalled 52.6 million units, with feature phone shipments falling 2.7% QoQ and smartphone shipments declining 1.3% over the same period.

Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix, and Itel) led the feature phone space in Q3 2018, with a combined unit share of 58.2%. Nokia was next in line with 11.7% share. Transsion, Samsung, and Huawei dominated the smartphone space with respective unit shares of 34.9%, 21.7%, and 10.2%. However, in value terms, Samsung led the smartphone market with 37.2% share, followed by Transsion (21.0%) and Huawei (13.0%).

There were differing fortunes in the region’s three major markets, with Nigeria suffering a heavy 11.6% QoQ decline in mobile phone shipments, while South Africa and Kenya saw respective QoQ growth of 8.5% and 7.9% in Q3 2018.

“The decline in Nigeria stemmed from a slowdown in government spending, ongoing warfare in the country’s northern states, and market uncertainty in the lead up to elections,” says George Mbuthia, a research analyst at IDC. “In South Africa, the market’s growth was spurred by the penetration of low-end devices from brands such as Mobicel, Mint, and Nokia, while the launch of entry-level smartphones helped drive growth in Kenya despite increases in taxes and fuel prices placing a significant burden on disposable income in the country.”

While feature phones remain steadfastly popular across Africa, particularly in more rural areas, consumers are increasingly being attracted by smartphone offerings from Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Huawei, which are actively targeting feature-oriented customers at more economical price points.

“There is a new wave of Chinese brands aggressively pursuing growth opportunities in the region, while the more-established Huawei is also accelerating its marketing efforts and expanding its distribution budget,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC. “These brands have quickly progressed along the learning curve and evolved their offerings to perfectly reflect the realities of the region by addressing the diverse pricing and feature needs of the consumer base.”

Looking ahead, IDC expects Africa’s overall mobile phone market to reach 58 million units in Q4 2018, spurred by the festive season and online consumer events such as Black Friday. The introduction of more affordable smartphones in the African market will help drive progress in this space over the coming quarters, while the share of feature phones will decline steadily as the transition to smartphones gathers momentum.

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Africa News

Mobile money to cross borders

Orange and MTN launch pan-African mobile money interoperability to scale up mobile financial services across Africa.



Two of Africa’s largest mobile operators and mobile money providers, Orange Group and MTN Group, today announced a joint venture, Mowali (mobile wallet interoperability), to enable interoperable payments across the continent. Mowali makes it possible to send money between mobile money accounts issued by any mobile money provider, in real time and at low cost.

Mowali will immediately benefit from the reach of MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money, bringing together over 100 million mobile money accounts and mobile money operations in 22 of sub-Saharan Africa’s 46 markets. Mowali is ready to enable interoperability between digital financial service providers beyond MTN and Orange operations and markets, to support the existing 338 million mobile money accounts in Africa.

Mowali is a digital payment infrastructure that connects financial service providers and customers in one inclusive network. It functions as an industry utility, open to any mobile money provider in Africa, including banks, money transfer operators and other financial service providers.

The objective of Mowali is to increase the usage of mobile money by consumers and merchants.  Mowali enables money to circulate freely between mobile money accounts from any operators in all countries.  From the customer’s point of view, this means “I can pay or receive money anywhere from my mobile account regardless of my operator”. The system will unlock further innovation in the digital financial space within the continent. 

For Stéphane Richard, Chairman & CEO of Orange, “by providing full interoperability between platforms, Mowali will provide an important step forward that will allow mobile money to become a universal means of payment in Africa. Increasing financial inclusion through the use of digital technology is an essential element in furthering the economic development of Africa, particularly for more isolated communities. This solution embodies Orange’s ambition to be a leading player in the digital transformation of the continent. By joining forces with another of Africa’s market leaders, MTN, we aim to accelerate the pace of this transformation in a way that will change the lives of our customers by providing them with simpler, safer and more advantageous services. “

“One of MTN’s goals is to accelerate the penetration of mobile financial services in Africa, Mowali is one such vehicle that will help us achieve that objective. Furthermore, co-operation and partnerships that help us accelerate the pace of development and overcome some of the scale, scope and complexity of challenges that society faces are key. This partnership with Orange is therefore an important step in helping us play a meaningful role in supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals related to eliminating extreme poverty and enhancing socio-economic development in the markets we operate in and beyond. Thus giving our customers access to a bright, digital future.” said Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN.

The GSMA supports the Mowali initiative as interoperability at this scale is a key accelerator for both financial inclusion and Mobile Money usability across Africa.  “Today, there are over 690 million mobile money accounts around the world. Mobile money services have become an essential, life-changing tool across Africa, providing access to safe and secure financial services but also to energy, health, education and employment opportunities. The creation of Mowali will help to further transform mobile financial services throughout the African region. It demonstrates the mobile industry’s continued leadership and commitment to driving financial inclusion and economic empowerment through industry collaboration. The GSMA is proud to support its development,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA.

“Interoperability of digital payments has been the toughest hurdle for the financial services industry to overcome, in support of financial inclusion. With Mowali, Orange and MTN deliver a solution that will enable them, and other companies, to scale digital financial services across Africa, faster, to everyone—including the poor,” said Kosta Peric, deputy director of Financial Services for the Poor, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “This is a signal that a new wave of innovation, which can help alleviate poverty and drive economic opportunity, is coming. We’re pleased to see an implementation of Mojaloop—an open source payment platform available to operators across the sector—help achieve that.”

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