MasterCard plans financial inclusion lab for better risk management


Head of MasterCard Labs for Financial Inclusion Salah Goss in a meeting in Nairobi. PHOTO | FAUSTINE NGILA | NMG

Lucy Muli has been a green grocer in Nairobi for seven years now. She has watched her business grow from a tiny venture to a popular joint that attracts hundreds of customers every day.

She is a married mother of three who wakes up early every morning to restock her business with fresh vegetables and fruits but spends four hours in the market choosing the best.

The Imara Daima resident visits the bank every week to deposit her earnings, that she saves to educate her school going children. However, it takes her hours lining up waiting to be served by a teller.

“My husband is underemployed but we team up to foot the household bills together. He also helps me with transportation of my stock from the market,” she said when she spoke to Business Daily.

Mrs Muli’s economic cycle is similar to that of several other greengrocers and farmers across the country who work hard to educate their children through financial savings.

But now MasterCard, a global leader in digital payments that connect consumers, businesses and suppliers has now come to the aid of Kenyans like Mrs Muli, who find it time consuming juggling between several physical processes to purchase agro-produce and give children a quality education.

The tech company has launched a financial hub in Nairobi to help enhance financial inclusion through solutions that will impact people of all socio-economic classes without discrimination.

“We aim to help people manage risks better, financially plan for the future and lead empowered lives. We have three programmes: MasterCard Farmers Network (MFN), Kupaa and Kionect that will change lives and create a more equitable society,” says Salah Goss, head of MasterCard Labs for Financial Inclusion.

With farmers depending on several tiers of middlemen who always cheat them on pricing, MFN seeks to give farmers the freedom to choose who to sell to, with payments being digitised and transaction records kept. It will also help buyers like Mrs Muli to choose agro-produce from the farmer with the best fruits and vegetables.

The platform has been deployed in Uganda, Tanzania and India and has reached over 100,000 farmers. It is a marketplace platform that provides smallholder farmers with digital identity, digitises flows of information and cash flows within a supply chain, and enables provision of new financial services to farmers.

Large agro traders use a web dashboard and agent app to manage collection of produce at farm gates or collection centers.

Kupaa, Swahili for ‘aim higher’, is a digital platform that simplifies school fee payment by low income households. Parents can therefore make small pay-as-you-go school fee payments to schools till fees clearance.

The innovation is under incubation in Kenya and Uganda.