GSMA mWomen awards two Innovation Fund grants in India to Accion International and SEWA

Written with contributions from Salima Fazal Karim.

The GSMA mWomen Programme is delighted to announce that Accion International and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) are the latest recipients of its Innovation Fund grants and the first grantees outside of Africa.  They join current grantees Tigo Tanzania, Etisalat Africa, Orange Mali and Airtel Uganda in developing innovative offerings designed to address the gender gap in women’s access and use of mobile in their respective markets.

Accion International, whose mission is to build a financially inclusive world, is working in close partnership with an Indian microfinance institution, Swadhaar FinServ, and Airtel Money India to implement mobile microfinance services for Swadhaar’s female clients.  The GSMA mWomen Innovation Fund grant will allow them to introduce innovations to ease and accelerate the initial registration and education stage for new mobile money customers.  In particular, they will deploy new marketing activities such as enrolment events and develop group peer learning programs.  The insights expected from this grant include effective education and marketing techniques to foster women’s adoption of mobile microfinance services and overall, strategies to improve resource-poor women’s participation in mobile money initiatives.

SEWA, a trade association of low-income self-employed women workers in India, has established a Rural Distribution Network (RUDI) where agricultural products are purchased from farmers, processed and packaged then sold directly to the end consumers through a network of sales agents called Rudibens. SEWA partnered with Vodafone Foundation India and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women to launch a mobile-based inventory control system that the Rudibens have successfully used to increase their sales.  In the next phase of this project, supported by the GSMA mWomen Innovation Fund grant, the system’s back-end processes and usability will be improved in order to further increase efficiency and revenues.  Furthermore, Vodafone India’s M-Pesa platform will be incorporated in order to integrate mobile money into the rural agricultural supply chain.

We look forward to the lessons and insights to be generated from these two exciting new projects that will drive resource-poor women’s adoption and use of mobile financial services.

Meanwhile, candidates for our latest round of GSMA Innovation Fund grants are finalising their applications, and we will be announcing more grant awards in the coming weeks, for both mobile network operators and non-governmental organisations.

The GSMA mWomen Global Development Alliance is a programme in partnership with USAID, DFAT, GSMA and Visa Inc.

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