Voices of Inclusion: Mercy Corps and GSMA Mobile for Development

April 16, 2013

Visa’s Head of Corporate Responsibility Douglas Sabo discussed the impact mobile services are having on financial inclusion efforts around the world with Elizabeth Berthe, Senior Director of Financial Services Innovation at Mercy Corps, at the 2013 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February.

From the interview:

Douglas Sabo, Visa: What sort of innovative and impactful work is Mercy Corps doing that involves mobile as part of the solution for financial services?

Elizabeth Berthe, Mercy Corps: “We see mobile financial services as a true game changer, and we’re taking a strong approach towards that and looking at how we can shift a lot of the work that we do, from our emergency payments to any type of payment that we deliver, through digital channels.”

“One of the recent programs that we’ve launched is called Agri-Fin. It’s operating in Indonesia, Zimbabwe and Uganda, and we’re looking to expand it to other countries. The basic principle is marrying information services with mobile financial services. Information services can help a farmer better understand how to improve crop yields and get information on crop pricing. Combining that with financial services will start to connect the whole market system. Then farmers can sell crops and get the payment, and since all of the systems are interconnected, hopefully get a better price.”

Visa: How does having access to both information and mobile financial services make a difference for farmers?

Mercy Corps: “By having access to information about actual market prices through mobile phones, farmers can negotiate better deals and skip the middleman to sell goods directly to a buyer. At the end of the day, it helps give farmers a better price for the goods they’re selling.”

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