Kiva Labs - Leveraging Mobile Tech

Mobile has the ability
to connect people and
bring down costs. But
access is limited.

Sources Photo by NextLab

The challenge

Mobile penetration in developing countries is nearly 80%, but this technology has yet to be fully leveraged to improve the lives of the poor on a macro scale. End users remain unaware of the potential, and companies and organizations putting mobile devices to use for social good face serious financial constraints.

  • Social enterprises promoting mobile technology solutions don’t have the resources to reach into remote regions where they could make the biggest difference.
  • While mobile money transactions are taking off with the popularity of services like M-Pesa, the upfront cost of opening mobile money franchises remains high.
  • Prospective customers are unaware of the amount of money and time they could save despite the high upfront costs of mobile devices.
  • There’s a high barrier to entry and limited services for people who want to lend and borrow money person-to-person via mobile phone.

Combined, all of these factors are holding back a revolution in financial services. With rapid, grassroots growth on its side, mobile technology is poised to change the lives of the poor.

Proposed solutions

  • Loans for retailers and franchises: By providing credit to entrepreneurs who want to open their own mobile money transaction kiosks, become community knowledge workers, or sell affordable mobile air-time, we can extend mobile-based services into remote regions, and reach people who would have never had access to these services otherwise. At the same time, we can save these end-users the time and cost of traveling to cities to send money, pay their bills or gather agricultural information.
  • Loans for mobile applications: Loans for mobile technology extend to applications like accounting software and bill pay apps that can be used to streamline businesses, improve efficiency and generate more income.
Paul was one of the first Zoona mobile money agents to grow his business with a Kiva loan.

Partners’ with innovative approaches

Zoona, in Zambia, provides loans for mobile money transaction agents to set up shop.

PT Ruma, in Indonesia, provide loans for retailers of wholesale mobile air-time and bill-pay services that save consumers time and money.

What is success?

We want to see millions of mobile phones deployed for social good. We define success as:

  • Last-mile expansion: Penetration of mobile technology into even the most remote regions of the world, connecting these communities to the global economy.
  • New products and services: More organizations designing mobile-based applications to make a difference.