The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development have announced grants totaling $3.2 million through the Haiti Mobile Money Initiative to two network operators working to deploy mobile money services in Haiti.
Representing the final awards made through a $10 million fund that was established in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake that killed some 316,000 people in Haiti and left at least a million more homeless, grants were awarded to Digicel and Voil� for reaching the five million transaction milestone. In the two-plus years since the quake, the two mobile operators and their bank partners have helped hundreds of thousands of Haitians make payments, send and receive funds, and manage their finances through mobile phones.
As the first phase of the initiative draws to a close, initiative partners are looking ahead to the next two years and helping mobile money service providers in Haiti achieve sustainability. To that end, the initiative will partner with key organizations to address remaining challenges, including customer education, agent and merchant network expansion, and product development.
"The Haiti Mobile Money Initiative has successfully contributed to spurring the launch of mobile money, and this progress is a significant accomplishment, given the challenges faced on the ground in Haiti," said Rodger Voorhies, director of the Financial Services for the Poor program at the Gates Foundation. "In the next phase of the project, we will focus on supporting the financial services industry to develop an active and growing customer base with the ultimate goal of helping the people in Haiti build financial security and better lives."