The Omidyar Network has announced a $4.5 million grant to Opportunity International to design, create, and implement electronic and mobile banking technologies that will reduce transaction costs and make microfinance services more widely available in sub-Saharan Africa.
Opportunity International will use the grant to launch an "electronic wallet" initiative designed to determine the optimum mix of electronic banking technologies needed in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda — countries where the organization already has significant operations, including banks and financial institutions. Initially, the organization will work to establish new telecommunications solutions — including satellite, broadband Internet, and cell phone technology — in each of the target countries. In Ghana and Rwanda, it will import technology already in use in the Philippines to connect to national payment systems under development in those countries.
Opportunity International also will use the funding to share best practices with the rest of the microfinance industry through technology symposia, white papers, and speaking engagements.
"Omidyar Network is pleased to be working with Opportunity International on this innovative microfinance initiative," said Omidyar Network managing partner Matt Bannick. "Opportunity International has made significant progress in modernizing microfinance delivery channels and openly shares its knowledge to help advance the entire industry. This collaborative spirit, along with a scalable, technology-based model, makes Opportunity International a natural fit for Omidyar Network."