Author Archives: Michael Kimani

Bridging East Africa’ formal – informal financial services divide

Kenya’s formal inclusion looks pretty, the financial inclusion industry has been has been great at talking up its achievements over the past 10 years. Here, 75.3% of Kenyans are now formally included, a 50.3% increase from 19 years ago. Official statistics on mobile phone penetration is up to 80.5% of the population and there is general […]

Posted in Africa, Alternative currency, Cashless transactions, Cattle, Kenya, Loans, Mama Biashara, rural, Savings, Uganda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

African Youth find Opportunities in Informal Sector Biashara

Biashara in Africa’s emerging economies – Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe- are at loggerheads with the state.  An ever bulging young demographic  and a failure to absorb them into the formal economy has resulted in increased biashara.  The informal sector’s low barrier to entry, appeals to the young Africans’ aspirations, like Simon Danda from Zimbabwe. Rather than […]

Posted in Africa, African Consumer Market, Base of the Pyramid, Biashara Economics, Informal & Flexible, jua kali, Kenya, Mama Biashara, Prepaid Economy & Informal Sector | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mpesa takes on Banks with Mobile wallet linked Prepaid Card

On June 10th, Kenya’s leading mobile payments platform, Mpesa, announced it was piloting a Lipa na Mpesa prepaid card linked to mobile wallets. The card is an interesting product in a Kenya’s payment market turf wars. Banks versus a dominant Telcos, Safaricom. According to Techweez, “The card, mirrors a user’s M-Pesa account, meaning whatever amounts […]

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Lessons for Formal Finance from Informal financial services

  On one of my many field explorations on rural financial services,  I found out, that for one mama biashara, as soon as payment checks in, she withdraws all her funds from her local coffee SACCO account, and spreads it out via micro-deposits across her more than 5 local informal savings groups (from right to […]

Posted in Assumption filter, Cashless transactions, Informal & Flexible, Kenya, Mama Biashara, Mobile platform, Perspective, rural, Rural Economy, Savings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Response

Creative ways to financial inclusion, inspired by observing practice

Needless to say, mobile money has been a wild success in scaling an expansive agent network for converting cash to e-money and enabling person to person money transfer. Speaking at a recent conference, John Staley, Chief Officer – Finance, Innovation and Technology at Equity Bank had this to say: “We should move the conversation from […]

Posted in Assumption filter, Banking, Base of the Pyramid, Cattle, Culture, Kenya, Livestock, Loans, Perspective, Philipines, rural, Rural Economy, Savings, urban | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The importance of the agent/customer relationship for successful financial inclusion

The role of agent networks in East Africa’s mobile money and mobile banking roll-outs is widely documented; as an intermediary, a kiosk exchange point – accepting deposits for e-money/ withdrawals for cash and usajili (registration). “. . .as the first point of contact, human agents help bridge the gap between a high-tech service and low-literacy […]

Posted in Assumption filter, Base of the Pyramid, Cashless transactions, Ecosystem, Informal & Flexible, Kenya, Mama Biashara, Mobile platform, Perspective, Prepaid Economy & Informal Sector, rural, Savings, Sub Saharan Africa, Technology, urban | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can digital currency earn trust in hyper-local rural economies?

One characteristic of rural and informal type micro-economies, is irregular patterns in cash flows and money supply. Mama biashara for instance, finds it hard to replenish stock if business is generally slow within her domain. Even if she could, there is still Mr. boda boda who has to be paid. When he doesn’t get paid, […]

Posted in Africa, Alternative currency, Banking, Base of the Pyramid, Cashless transactions, Culture, Ecosystem, Kenya, Mama Biashara, Mobile platform, Perspective, Prepaid Economy & Informal Sector, rural, Sub Saharan Africa | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Mpesa si pesa’ – mobile money’s collision with informal sector’s cash culture

Ever since mobile money (MM) came along, ‘cashless’ is all the rage in East Africa. Money experts have a sack-full of reasons why mobile money is good for the economy. The truth is, however, making a case for MM is easy – no doubt, but, one perspective that is often left out in almost all […]

Posted in Africa, Alternative currency, Cashless transactions, Consumer Behaviour, Culture, Ecosystem, Informal & Flexible, Kenya, Mama Biashara, Mobile platform, Research, rural, Sub Saharan Africa, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment