February 11, 2015
In low-income countries, good information about personal budgeting and saving is hard to find. Many people have limited schooling and little familiarity with financial institutions. Financial education efforts at the local level—often constrained by inadequate staff resources and transportation challenges—tend to be one-time events accessible only to a small slice of the population. Getting the information you need at the moment you need it is nearly impossible.
Online, on-demand resources have huge potential to address this problem. But with roughly two-thirds of the world not yet on the web, “last-mile” content delivery remains a challenge—even as data coverage is increasing.
What mobile users need is a reason to try the Internet. That’s why DAI, Souktel, and Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) have teamed up to launch an online resource called “Your Money” as part of Facebook’s Internet.org App—an initiative that brings affordable internet access to two thirds of the world not yet connected. Launched in Colombia with Tigo, Your Money (“Su Dinero” in Spanish) provides local financial education lessons through basic mobile devices. Developed by Souktel, the mobile platform features MFO’s market-leading content in a package designed and curated by DAI.
Tigo customers in Colombia can use the service as part of Internet.org with zero data charges. The service extends the reach of financial education to 7 million Colombians who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it. It works on low-cost smartphones and feature phones—ensuring that mobile users with basic handsets can still get online. Tigo customers can access these services in the Internet.org Android app and at www.internet.org.
“Drawing on DAI’s 45 years of experience in 160 countries, we have a good sense of what communities in emerging markets need—technology is allowing us to meet those needs at a new scale,” said DAI Vice President of Information Technology Larry Campbell, who said the company is looking to develop accessible local mobile content on a wide range of topics, from agriculture to civic engagement.
Yazeed Sheqem, Souktel’s Africa/Asia Director of Business Development, said: “As a mobile software venture based in frontier markets, Souktel is honored to partner on this initiative. By making the web more accessible to communities across the globe, Internet.org is closing a huge information gap. And by bringing financial education into millions of homes, through basic mobile devices, we hope to provide a clear path to economic security for people in need.”
Dr. Guy Stuart, Executive Director of MFO, said: “The Internet.org initiative is enabling MFO to reach its target audiences with financial education content at a scale that we previously could not have imagined. Working with DAI and Souktel, MFO is committed to ensuring that what we deliver through Internet.org is meaningful, engaging, and supports people in making informed financial decisions that have a positive impact on their lives, whether it is saving for a rainy day, facilitating family conversations about money, or knowing what questions to ask when borrowing money.”
“Making the Internet accessible through a set of basic services can have a big impact, and lead to more people discovering tools and information that can help them lead better lives,” said Chris Daniels, Vice President of Internet.org, Facebook. “Giving people access to these services with zero data charges can significantly increase the rate of Internet adoption, which today is growing at less than 10 percent a year.”
DAI is a leading global development company currently implementing 162 projects in 105 countries. A Devex Top 40 Development Innovator, DAI applies appropriate technology to complement proven development strategies in ways that increase impact and scale.
Founded in 2006, Souktel designs custom mobile solutions that help emerging-market communities get information about jobs and social services. From its offices in the Middle East, Souktel changes lives across the Arab World, Africa, and Asia—working in partnership with regional employers and mobile networks to serve more than 250,000 mobile users.
MFO is the leading provider of global financial education content to governments, financial institutions, and donors, reaching more than 1.7 million people through direct training and almost 39 million through mass media channels.
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