© Hailey Tucker, One Acre Fund
In Kenya, better yields and inclusive agriculture start from your mobile wallet
by Communications Team, June 8, 2017
One of the most important tools on Everline Wakhungu’s farm is her mobile phone.
By Whitney McFerron, Global Media Relations Lead, One Acre Fund
Everline, who raises maize, beans, and livestock on a four-acre farm in western Kenya, always plants her crops on time because of text message reminders she receives from One Acre Fund. Mobile payments have become ubiquitous in Kenya, and the nonprofit, which provides smallholder farmers with inputs on credit and agricultural training, has expanded its digital presence in the past few years. In 2016, all 198,000 of its farmer clients in the country were able to use their mobile phones to access agricultural extension services and pay back their loans digitally.
Everline, who farms with her husband Mathew near the village of Namawanga, said text message reminders about field preparation and planting helped her harvest a big crop last year. She also said that the mobile repayment system made it easier to manage the family’s finances. Now, instead of waiting for a One Acre Fund field officer to collect cash from her every week, she uses her mobile wallet to send loan repayments directly to the organization whenever she has enough money on hand.
A new study by the UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance provides a deeper look into how One Acre Fund successfully digitized loan repayments for smallholder farmers in Kenya. It also details the tremendous benefits that were achieved due to this shift, from boosting transparency and efficiency to increased economic opportunity and financial inclusion for thousands of smallholder farmers and their families.
“We trust this system better than the other one, because before sometimes money could be stolen or lost,” Everline said. “Now, when you send the money, you receive a message back immediately. You can see your balance, and know what amount is left on your loan.”
Mobile repayment has also made life easier for One Acre Fund staff, said Meshack Mocho, a field director who oversees workers in Teso district, where more than 180 farmers are enrolled. Prior to 2014, farmer repayment to One Acre Fund was a 12 to 16-day process that involved a host of middlemen, from field officers to bankers, treasurers, bookkeepers and farmers. Today, thanks to mobile repayments, the process takes only 4 days. “Now, field officers are able to spend more time working on training sessions and answering questions for farmers, instead of collecting cash,” Meshack said.
“Before, field officers would have payment meetings, and not all farmers would attend, so then they would have to do a lot of work following up with everyone. Now, field officers can basically focus on training. They can get back to what is important and what they need to do.”
Here is the full case study on how One Acre Fund, with the help from Citi, digitized loan repayments leading to inclusive economic growth for Kenyan farmers
About the Author
Better Than Cash Alliance, New York, USA
Communications Team at Better Than Cash Alliance, based in New York, NY.
By Communications Team, February 8, 2017