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Simple and relevant financial services through mobile

By Dare Okoudjou
CEO of MFS Africa

MFS Africa – at the forefront of financial services innovation

The Republic of Mali has one of the highest birth rates in the world (women have on average 6.8 children) and the costs of childbirth can quickly exhaust a family’s income. In the absence of proper savings channels, many women are forced to rely on informal self-help groups for savings.

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Mali also has a high maternal mortality rate, with almost 5% women dying due to childbirth. In a global comparison of maternal mortality rates conducted by Lancet (2010), Mali ranks 165th out of 181 of countries with the highest maternal mortality rates (181st marking highest maternal mortality rate).
Overall, women of reproductive age face many challenges in Mali especially access to health services. About 54 in every 1000 women die during childbirth although it could be preventable if they had access to health facilities and beneficiated from assisted delivery. Only 45% of women give birth at a health facility and 51% of women do not have access to a skilled medical professional. This situation is due to many factors including: lack of information on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy, poor access to health systems, and lack of money to deal with complications that may occur during delivery.

dev-mfs-3At MFS Africa, we believe these kinds of problems can be alleviated by cutting-edge technology (mobile phone) applied with smart process engineering. To deliver on our belief, we have partnered with Orange Mali, PSI and NSIA to bring TIN GELEYA to Mali women – a mobile phone-based pregnancy health insurance coverage that combines a savings account with health insurance to cover the cost of treatment for common childbirth complications. Pregnant women conveniently subscribe to the service from their Orange Mali mobile phone and contribute monthly through their Orange Money account. This allows Malian women to give birth in hospital without worrying about the cost, and thus hopefully reduce the dreadful mortality rate.

TIN GELEYA is an example of the how we at MFS Africa re-invent ‘old’ financial services (health insurance) into new, simple, relevant and accessible financial services in Africa. Our typical innovation process involves picking a service (say a hospital protection plan), unpack it’s value chain to understand the key building blocks, identifying what we can remove, add, re-mold, reduce or augment to the process to lower delivery cost and expand reach. We then repackage the service and optimise for mobile phone distribution. Mobile technology is at heart of most of our services. We love mobile phones. Unashamedly.

In February 2011, we pioneered the distribution of life insurance through mobile with Mi-Life launched in Ghana in partnership with MTN Ghana, Microensure, UT Life and Hollard Insurance. In 2012 we launched the first mobile-based short term credit service, KwikAdvance (www.gokwikadvance.com) in Ghana and in Cameroon. Later the same year we launched groundbreaking online remittance services whereby recipients receive the international money transfers directly on their mobile phones, in partnership with MTN Group (www.mtnmmo.com) and Orange (www.orangemoneyonline.com).

MFS Africa was founded in 2009 with the mission to provide simple and relevant financial services for all mobile users in Africa. We focus on a few financial services for which we know demand is proven, re-engineer the services to optimise for cost-effective distribution and administration through mobile phones. We then partner with Mobile Network Operators and Financial Institutions to make the services available to mobile users. We are a diverse company of 15 nationalities spanning across 4 continents, speaking 22 languages, brought together by the profound belief that we can make lasting change to people’s lives, by leveraging mobile technology. We make financial services simpler to access, easier to use and more affordable for ordinary people, through the mobile phone. We focus on financial services because of their multiplier effect – a good insurance product shields people from uncertainty; improved money transfer services makes it easier for diaspora members to support their relatives at home; using a mobile phone to pay for things online unlocks trade potential within and across borders, not to mention that it stimulates the growth of local merchants to employ people; and easier to access and simpler-functioning credit services are oil to the wheel of the millions salaried and ‘survival entrepreneurs’ across Africa.

Headquartered in Mauritius, MFS Africa has offices in Accra, Abidjan, Douala, Johannesburg, and Kigali and operates in 13 markets across Africa including Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Rwanda, Uganda, Senegal and South Africa.

Contact us on g20@mfsafrica.com or visit mfsafrica.com

 

 

 

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