This post was originally published on mSTAR.
This is the second of a three-week blog series on digital financial services for agriculture. This series showcases mSTAR and the Digital Development for Feed the Future team’s recently released interactive online resource and instructional videos, made to complement The Guide to the Use of Digital Financial Services in Agriculture. The online resource breaks down the steps of how to use digital financial services in agriculture.
Malawi’s economy is “built on the backbone of the smallholder farmer,” says Kilyelyani Kanjo, who served as Chief of Party of the FHI 360-led Feed the Future Malawi Mobile Money Project. But smallholder farmers face a major challenge: cash. Farmers who transact in cash face issues of theft and security, and they incur huge costs as they travel long distances to access banks.
“There’s a better way to move money: mobile money.” Kilyelyani says. In Malawi, mobile phones have penetrated the rural areas. Phones have become ubiquitous. With mobile money services, farmers can access their bank account as long as they have their phone. Through support by Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, the project focuses on strengthening the ecosystem so that mobile money can take off.
To do this, the Feed the Future Malawi Mobile Money Project takes a strategic approach. It builds capacity for service providers, banks, and regulators. Kilyelyani and her team create spaces where stakeholders, including competitors, share ideas, forge partnerships, and work together to strengthen mobile banking in Malawi. The project works on issues around financial literacy and creates public awareness campaigns.
Their efforts have made a significant impact in the uptake of mobile money in Malawi. In 2012, there were 200,000 mobile money subscribers in Malawi. Now, there are two million. Moreover, the government is closely involved in and has formally recognized the project’s efforts through a collaboration called the Mobile Money Coordination Group.
“Mobile money is really an important element that any Feed the Future project can do,” says Steven Kulyazi, a Program Officer for the Malawi Mobile Money Project. Like in Malawi, mobile money can transform the reach and success of a project and impact agricultural outcomes for smallholder farmers, who are the backbone of many countries’ economies.
As Steven says, any USAID project can implement mobile money in their project. USAID is ready to help missions and partners identify specific challenges in value chains and integrate digital financial services into those corresponding challenges.
Watch this video to hear from Steven, Kileyelyani, and others on how the Malawi Mobile Money project successfully strengthens mobile money in Malawi.
To learn more about how to implement digital financial services in Feed the Future projects, read the Guide to the Use of Digital Financial Services in Agriculture. If you have specific questions or feedback, contact email@example.com.