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Mastercard Foundation opens call for African projects that address rural poor

The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity (FRP) in Nairobi yesterday launched a new competition to find and support providers of innovative and scalable financial products and services that improve the lives of poor people in rural areas of Africa.

In a press release the fund said the 2017 competition will be open throughout the year with applications submitted and evaluated periodically. The first submission period will close for judging on 10 August.

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Unsuccessful applicants will be able to refine and resubmit their applications subsequently, along with new entrants in the competition.

The Fund for Rural Prosperity will accept applications for innovative financial solutions that expand and deepen financial inclusion for the poor in rural areas of Africa. It will also support selected solutions that have already been successfully implemented and are being scaled to a new sector, a new geographic area, or for a new use.

‘The fund will be open throughout year with  first submission period closing on 10 August’

Applications can be from any financial services provider in any country in the world providing the solution proposed is implemented in the following countries: Burundi, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda,and Zambia.

Since its launch in 2015, the fund has held four competitions and 19 projects across Sub-Saharan Africa have been provided with financial support totalling $23.8-million.

The 2017 competition launch coincides with the announcement of the 2016 Innovation Competition winners. Three projects have been awarded support by the fund to implement innovative financial solutions and $1-million has been committed to each.

The projects are: Ibero Uganda Limited — to assist smallholder coffee farmers with training and advice, First Access — to leverage data to drive rural financial access and Letshego Financial Services Mozambique — with a project that uses biometric data to grow the number of rural consumers who are banked.

“Our Fund for Rural Prosperity has already met its initial objective of improving the lives of one million smallholder farmers and poor people in rural Africa,” said Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation.

“We have seen financial services providers step up with truly innovative and scalable ideas to drive financial inclusion for this group of people. We hope that other actors in this space are taking note so that they, too, can emulate or support success and bring the benefits of financial inclusion to millions more people,” said Miles.

Featured image: WorldRemit Comms via Flickr (CC 2.0, resize)

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