Tigo Rwanda: Empowering women agents

Tigo Rwanda committed to reduce the gender gap in their mobile money customer base by 2020 when they signed up to the GSMA Connected Women Commitment initiative. This blog looks at the Tigo Women Entrepreneurship Fund; one of the initiatives that Tigo Rwanda launched to help them reach their commitment target, as they believed that female agents would help drive adoption and usage of mobile money among Rwandan women.

Rwanda is a dynamic mobile money market and the existence of a formal national ID system has contributed to financial inclusion via mobile money.  In 2015, according to the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), 37 per cent of Rwandan adults were considered financially included, and of these, nearly two thirds have a mobile money account. In Rwanda, mobile money is spreading rapidly despite low literacy levels and handset ownership, but adoption rates among women lag behind men. This is similar to many other markets in low- and middle-income countries, where as a whole Global Findex 2014 data shows that women are 36% less likely to have a mobile money account than men.

Field research highlighted the value of female agents

GSMA Connected Women commissioned research in conjunction with Tigo Rwanda to examine the barriers and drivers of the mobile money gender gap in Rwanda as well as opportunities to reach more women.

The research revealed that both men and women interviewees agreed that female agents offer better customer service than male agents. Female interviewees also reported that they prefer interacting with a friend or a fellow woman, and that they would be more comfortable and confident using Tigo Cash if this person were to show them. With these insights Tigo Rwanda launched the Tigo Women Entrepreneurship Fund.

What is the Tigo Women Entrepreneurship Fund?

Tigo Women Entrepreneurship Fund aims to provide ICT and business management training as well as startup capital to more than 300 women from across Rwanda to become Tigo cash agents. The US$65,000 Entrepreneurship Fund was launched in March 2016 in partnership with The National Women’s Council of Rwanda.

So far, Tigo Rwanda has enrolled 70 women who now run their own agent outlets. Before signing the GSMA Connected Women Commitment initiative, women made up 39% of the Tigo Rwanda mobile money customer base. This initiative along with others have increased this figure to 41% in only nine months.  In parallel, the percentage of female Tigo cash agents has increased from 30% to 32%. Tigo Rwanda is aiming to empower over 1,280 women agents by 2020.

Impact of the Fund

This video tells the personal stories of how female beneficiaries’ lives have been impacted since they became Tigo cash agents.

One such woman was Marie Rose Mukansanabo from Kigali. Previously unemployed, she credits the Entrepreneurship Fund with providing her with a source of income and the ability to support her family: “I was classified as a poor person before; I used to stay at home all day. Now I can support my mother. Before we did not have food and clothes. Now I can provide all the basic needs for my family”.

She also explains that the scheme is further helping women in her community, as they find her trustworthy and are confident in dealing with her. One of her customers Grace Mukamwambutsa comments, “Having mobile money allows me to easily send money to my friends and family and pay for things like electricity…. I prefer dealing with a female agent because I feel that their services are more trustworthy, and these services require trust”

It is often reported that when you invest in women the impact on society is greater.  As Tigo Rwanda CEO Philip Amoateng explains, “There’s a guy in my country many years ago who said that if you educate a man, you educate an individual; if you educate a woman, you educate an entire society. Digital financial inclusion for women is very important, because at the end of the day the benefits will transcend into the entire economy”.
Read more about Tigo Rwanda’s Connected Women Commitment.


This initiative is currently funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and supported by the GSMA and its members.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also supports the GSMA Connected Women programme, funding research to better understand where along the mobile money customer journey women tend to drop off more than men and identify opportunities for addressing key gender gaps in specific markets in Africa.