Monday, December 5, 2011

Women's Groups and Mobile Money in Eastern Kenya

IMTFI is happy to release our most recent working paper, a study of rural women's groups in Eastern Kenya and use of mobile money technology. Here is a brief summary and reflection from IMTFI researcher Ndunge Kiiti:
Our research in Kenya was a real eye opener in terms of what mobile money services rural women need, for their projects and groups to succeed.  The primary goal of our study was to investigate the use and impact of mobile money services (e.g. M-PESA, YU and Zap), among the 21 women’s groups, as a tool for poverty reduction in Eastern Kenya.  We met with the women from all the 21 groups, using the format of in-depth interviews, focus group discussion, or participatory observations.  The highlight of the process was a workshop we held at the end of our data collection process. What an experience!!! We had about 100 women (about 4-5 representatives from each group) participate.  Since ALL the groups use the M-PESA service, we were able to get in touch with the staff and they happily attended the workshop as well.  It was an extremely informative process, not just for the women’s groups but for the M-PESA staff.  They got to hear nine of the groups talk about various projects they are doing in the community.  They also got to hear some of the opportunities and challenges the women face in using M-PESA services.  The M-PESA staff were  extremely moved by the conversation.  Even if they had known this information prior to their workshop, it was good for them to hear, first hand experiences, from the field.  At times the staff seemed overwhelmed with all the women were doing with such limited resources and opportunities.  The M-PESA staff were able to share, the women’s groups, and also address some of the opportunities and challenges related to M-PESA services in rural areas.  They also provided products and upgrades that the women had access to at the workshop.  A highlight for the women was the M-PESA staff bring T-shirts for everyone!   That was a treat.  Overall, the dialogue was extremely productive and there was commitment to continue in conversation to see if there’s other ways M-PESA or Safaricom might partner with these women’s groups. 
Click here to read the paper! 

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