The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) announced today that it awarded close to $900,000 to support three projects aimed at reaching unbanked people in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) with a wide range of affordable, efficient and valuable financial services.
The CGAP Branchless Banking Challenge Fund, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, awarded funds to three organizations: Advans Cote d’Ivoire (CI), MFS Africa, and MoneyExpress.
The projects, which are already underway, were selected from 34 total proposals submitted to The Challenge Fund, which seeks to foster a well-informed branchless banking industry in WAEMU. Despite notable progress, the region still faces obstacles such as underdeveloped distribution networks, lack of customer activation, and inadequate product offerings.
- In Cote d’Ivoire, Advans Cote d’Ivoire will develop a branchless banking solution adapted to cocoa cooperatives and farmers. The goal is to make payments to cooperatives and producers more secure to reduce the risks of physical flows of cash. This will also create opportunities to link farmers to financial services offered by Advans-CI.
- In Cote d’Ivoire and Benin, MFS Africa will launch a micro-lending product called a mjara loan that will give clients access to a guaranteed loan based on a credit score derived from client history with mobile money transactions, other financial products, income, address, and other demographic information. The mjara loan will build off mobile wallet solutions in Cote d’Ivoire and Benin and will be delivered in partnership with financial institutions.
- In Senegal, Money Express will launch NAFA a mobile banking platform enabling customers to pay bills, purchase goods and services, send money, and store funds. The solution will allow Money Express to leverage a large client base from its existing money transfer business, and to offer clients the opportunity to open a bank account with an MFI given its affiliation with CHAKA Group.
“The projects supported by this challenge fund are an excellent opportunity to support and power innovation in a rapidly changing branchless banking ecosystem,” notes Estelle Lahaye, Manager of the WAEMU branchless banking project at CGAP. “We are also excited about the learning potential these projects offer for deeper market development in the WAEMU region.”