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Financial services grow in developing nations

May 2013

Financial services will be available to hundreds of thousands more low-income people under new commitments to Business Call to Action (BCtA), the UN anti-poverty programme. The projects will widen access in three developing nations to services such as mobile technology and insurance.
 
In Zambia, where 86% of citizens lack bank services, Zoona, an electronic transfer business, will increase access to financial and payment services to 150,000 poorer customers per month by 2015. 
 
People will be able to send and receive money, buy airtime and pay bills through Zoona agents in convenient busy areas such as bus stations, markets and shopping centres. Zoona says this will increase personal productivity and decrease the risks involved in cash transfers. 
 
To enhance the services Zoona agents will receive interest-free working capital through a partnership with Kiva.org, a San Francisco-based non-profit poverty action NGO. 
 
In Malaysia, the UK company MicroEnsure, the world’s largest provider of insurance serving more than four million customers in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, will expand mobile-based insurance to 200,000 low-income and middle-income consumers. Health cover will be among the new products. 
 
Richard Leftley, MicroEnsure’s chief executive, said: “For microinsurance to be sustainable, it has to be about massive scale. For this reason I am most excited about the role that mobile phone networks can play in providing access to millions of people who have yet to have insurance.” 
 
In Kenya, the Nairobi-based social enterprise group Honey Care Africa aims to bring 40,000 rural families into its supply chain by 2017 and raise their income by up to 20%. It will supply beehives, tools and expertise and guarantee a fair trade market.  Honey Care Africa will train and integrate about 600 more workers as carpenters, clerks, beehive technicians and quality control managers, and expects as a spin-off a 15%-30% growth in crop yields on small farms through increased pollination from neighbouring bee colonies. 
 
BCtA programme manager Sahba Sobhani said: “By adapting business models to the needs of previously under-served consumers and partnering with international organisations, social enterprises such as these are demonstrating longevity and becoming key actors in tackling poverty.”  



Business Call to Action | Global | Social Enterprise

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