Feb 18

From Micro Loan to Micro Banker

Amira was not well served by banks. In fact she lives thirty miles from the nearest bank. She didn’t have any money either, since her husband died five years ago.

A man came to Amira’s village from an agency offering micro loans to help people buy chickens or anything that would provide villagers with alternative income. She saw the man from the agency and asked to buy a mobile phoneafrican_woman_with_cell_phone_polaroid with a wind up charger. She became the Phone Lady for the village.

Anyone needing to make a phone call would come to her and use the phone, and pay her based on the length of the call. She quickly paid back the loan.

She provided additional services, as an employment agency, receiving messages when the big farm in the next valley needed additional workers for the harvest, and providing Market Data, with text messages from her friends in nearby towns giving the vegetable market prices, so villagers would pay to know where to get the best prices to sell their crops.

She then got into money transfers. Her neighbour, who worked in the big city, had to take two days off work to bring home the cash for his family. Now he buys phone credits for Amira’s phone and she passes the cash to his family. This also saves Amira the walk to the nearest town for phone top ups, and is a useful way to use up all the cash she receives.

Although the nation’s economy was woefully mismanaged, with high inflation and many of the local banks going bust, her savings were safely stored as credit minutes on the phone that kept their value.

And the moral is, if it needs spelling out: If banks don’t meet peoples needs, people will find that they don’t need banks.

Permanent link to this article: http://transformingfinance.eu/the-phone-lady/