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$10,6m ploughed into African financial inclusion

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The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity has awarded five companies more than $10,6-million to bolster their innovative work to alleviate poverty by increasing access to financial services for poor people in rural Africa.
The five companies introduced imaginative thinking in their approach to scaling up financial inclusion – the increase in access to services such as mobile banking, savings accounts, insurance and credit – for the benefit of nearly 8-million people in remote parts of Africa.
The Fund for Rural Prosperity also announced the opening of its 2016 Scaling Competition, a search for other companies that are working to broaden and deepen financial inclusion at scale in rural Africa.
The five firms are APA Insurance, Finserve Africa/Equitel; M-KOPA; Musoni Kenya and Olam Uganda.
“There were many impressive companies that entered this competition with proposals to scale up their work and make a real difference in the financial lives of people living in poverty,” says Ann Miles, director of financial inclusion and youth livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation. “These five, however, displayed an innovative approach backed by a solid business proposal and a commitment to excellence that convinced us to support their efforts.”
As a result of the five awards announced today, nearly 8-million people in rural areas of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda will have access to formal financial services by 2020. Financial inclusion has been shown to improve peoples’ lives through greater access to health, education and employment opportunities.
Nick Hughes, chief product officer and co-founder of M-KOPA, comment: “M-KOPA Labs is delighted to be partnering with The MasterCard Foundation to explore new ways to deliver credit services to rural customers and farmers in Tanzania, many of whom live beyond the grid and without access to financial services. The project with The MasterCard Foundation will be aimed at helping more low income Tanzanians to access clean energy, agricultural inputs and financial services.”
The Fund for Rural Prosperity has two competition categories:
* Innovation: In 2015, a total of $15-million was made available to support new financial products as well as savings groups, micro-insurance and other inclusive finance systems for the rural poor. Nearly $7-million was awarded in the first Innovation Competition last year.
* Scaling: In 2015, a total of $35-million was made available to provide financial support for promising ideas that expand services and improve financial inclusion for smallholder farmers. Initial awards totalling more than $10,6-million are being made today in the first Scaling Competition.
The Fund for Rural Prosperity is managed by KPMG International Development Advisory Services, Africa.