MasterCard Creates Mobile Marketplace for East African Farmers
Over two billion people all over the globe are still unbanked. Among the most considerable reason for the aforementioned unbaked-ness is the lack of accessibility. Particularly in developing countries, the lower income groups are often left out of the fold as they lack the access to the primary banking facilities. But now, as the basic services such as mobile banking have manifested to benefit people to come out of poverty in Africa, several organizations are seen beginning to focus on the economic inclusion of the neglected communities. A mobile payment solution, 2Kuze from Mastercard Labs is among one such scheme designed for the farmers in Kenya.
As far as the name of the initiative is concerned, 2Kuze translates to “let’s grow together” in the Swahili language. The aforementioned mobile payment solution is nothing but a digital platform which establishes a connection between the farmers and the agents as well as buyers for the procession of cashless transactions. The system generates a text message by tapping into the farmer’s community when a buyer submits an online query. It is totally the farmer’s choice whether to respond to the inquiry or not with an offer for providing the produce demanded or to pitch in the amount available at the given time. The Mastercard Labs’ agents will then go on to verify the offer made as well as negotiate the cost with the farmer.
Conventionally, the farmers have had to undertake journeys of several miles for the purposes of buying and selling or making and receiving payments. But with the availability of 2Kuze, more the Kenyan farmers can establish connection with each and every critical position of the marketplace. At present, the aforementioned digital platform is being used by over 2,000 farmers in Kenya.
2Kuze is backed by $11 million funding by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has been in the making since the year 2015. Mastercard Labs conducted a brainstorming session for Financial Inclusion in Nairobi, Kenya which brought together developers and designers apart from the local non-trading partners under the same roof for finding a solution for the lower income farming communities. The aforementioned communities form a substantial part of the 8 million Kenyan farmers that solely rely on their produce for supporting their families. However, over the years, with several economic and climatic changes, the smallholders continue their cultivation on small land stretches for low output. This has held them back in the vicious cycle of poverty.
Thus, the availability of 2Kuze for the small scale farmers with less than two acres of land is a big opportunity. The small scale farmer’s community consists of 80% of the African farmers. By including the lower income farmer’s into the digital financial services’ fold has garnered importance in the recent times. But the entire East Africa and especially in Kenya, the mobile banking facility via M-Pesa has been a huge hit in the last ten years. 2Kuze on the other hand, focuses on creating a platform on the existing mobile framework for making the financial services more accessible to the lower income farmers.