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Kenyan Mobile Money-imtfi Working Paper (www.imtfi.uci.edu)

Kenyan Mobile Money-imtfi Working Paper (www.imtfi.uci.edu)

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The primary goal of this research study was to investigate the use and impact of mobile money services, among the 21 women’s groups, as a tool for poverty reduction in Eastern Kenya
The primary goal of this research study was to investigate the use and impact of mobile money services, among the 21 women’s groups, as a tool for poverty reduction in Eastern Kenya

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Published by: THINK The Innovation Knowledge Foundation on Feb 09, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Working Paper
Mobile Money Services and Poverty Reduction: A Study of  Women
s Groups in Rural Eastern Kenya
by Dr. Ndunge Kiiti, Houghton College (New York)& Dr. Jane Mutinda, Kenyatta University (Kenya)
With support rom the New Partnership or Arican Development (NEPAD), Vinya wa Aka Group(VwAG), a women’s group rom the Eastern part o Kenya, has trained 21 women’s groups, in sevenrural districts o the Province, on issues related to investment, savings, money services and man-agement. As part o that training, each group outlined a strategy or resource mobilization, savingsand investment with the aim o reducing poverty within their amilies and communities.To build on the initial VwAG training, the primary goal o this research study was to investigate theuse and impact o mobile money services (e.g. M-PESA, YU and Zap), among the 21 women’s groups,as a tool or poverty reduction in Eastern Kenya.The methodology included in-depth interviews, ocus group discussion, participatory observations,review o secondary data and a dissemination workshop, which will be the ocus o this workingpaper.
IMTFI Working Paper 2011-2
Focus Group Discussion in Wamunyu, Kenya In-depth Interview in Thika, Kenya
IMTFI Working Paper 2011-2
The Workshop
The workshop was organized targeting representatives rom each o the 21 women’s groups, serviceproviders and policymakers. The workshop process aimed to achieve three purposes. First, the goalwas to disseminate some o the preliminary thematic fndings rom the research on mobile money services. Second, the service providers and policymakers had the opportunity to respond to someo the issues and challenges highlighted in the research. Finally, the third goal was to provide a net-working opportunity or the women’s groups. This was a requent request, by the women’s groups,throughout the VwAG training and research process.The workshop ormat worked eectively or sharing and inuencing policy. The workshop was acili-tated in Kikamba, the main and traditional language o Eastern Kenya. This is the language used by each o the women’s groups. This ensured a mode o communication that the women could under-stand. There were translation services made available or the service providers and policymakers.The workshop was also held in the outskirts o Nairobi, in a central place to ensure all the women’sgroups could send at least 3-4 representatives.In terms o process and structure, a key session o the workshop was entitled, ‘Women’s Voices.’Nine o the 21 women’s groups had been pre-selected, based on geographic region and diversity o group objectives/goals, to do presentations o their overall approaches to poverty reduction, withintheir amilies and communities. This was complemented by VwAG group modeling one o theirmember’s catering businesses. Primarily established through the Merry-Go-Round and fnancialinvestments o VwAG, this member’s business has expanded to over 100 employees, catering orsome o the largest corporations in Nairobi. The VwAG member, through her business, catered orthe workshop. The session on ‘Women’s Voices,’ was ollowed by a discussion o the preliminary fndings rom the research on mobile money services, with a response rom the service providersand policymakers.
Member o VwAG with employees o catering business VwAG member caters or workshop
IMTFI Working Paper 2011-2
Profiles of the Women
s Groups
From a gender perspective, gross inequalities exist between men and women in Kenya. These gapsand inequalities are evident in access and control o resources, economic opportunities and power,and political voice. One specifc example is tied to land ownership. An estimated 95% o all landholdings in Kenya are owned by men; while women own only 5% (UNDP & UNIFEM, 2005, p. 11). Thesechallenges have translated into high levels o poverty, mainly concentrated among women in ruralareas.In the Eastern Province o Kenya, poverty and inequalities are staggering. According to the CentralBureau o Statistics, the Eastern Province is one o the poorest regions o the country. Among themany causes highlighted as driving poverty in this region, lack o inormation about socio-economicservices, rights, and obligations is key (as cited in UNDP/UNIFEM Report, 2005). This problem espe-cially aects women. Michael Kevane has argued that the pervasiveness o women’s disadvantageis rarely understood in economic lie (2004). However, research has shown that empowerment, es-pecially among rural populations, can help address issues that are intertwined with poverty.All 21 women’s groups trained and mentored by VwAG are working on addressing poverty rom asocial, economic, and psychological perspective. The key aspects common to all (or most groups) in-clude: Investment (mainly shares and land ownership), Savings Accounts, Merry-Go-Round, Social/Spiritual Support and Microfnance projects. Currently, all the groups have Savings Accounts (as agroup and many as individuals) and some orm o fnancial investments. Additionally, most o thegroups continue using the Merry-Go-Round system, a basic and simple example o what StuartRutherord (1999) calls the Rotating Savings and Credit Associations or ROSCAs, or sharing re-sources and reducing poverty within their amilies and communities. The groups are also exten-sively involved with community outreach. Philanthropic community projects include: environmentalconservation (tree planting); counseling/mentoring youth in and out o school; community healtheducation, fnancial support or local institutions and initiatives and working with people challengedby disabilities.From the research, it is clear that mobile money services are central to the success o these groups.O the various mobile money services available in Kenya, each o the groups uses M-PESA (Saa-ricom) as their main avenue or transactions, as individuals and groups. As one group member putit, “The use o M-PESA has been extremely benefcial to many people.” Many o the group membersexpressed that they couldn’t imagine not having access to M-PESA as a service. Why was M-PESAso popular among women’s groups in Eastern Kenya? What were some o the opportunities andchallenges this posed?

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