Saturday, November 9, 2013

Access to Finance Rwanda Supports UOB Agent Banking...

After signing the grant agreement. Judith, Head of AFR
Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) is a fund established by Department of Finance for  International Development (DFID), UK's international development agency, and World Bank. This fund's main objective is to enhance the financial inclusion for under-served Rwandans.

UOB submitted a proposal for a grant to support its agent quality management programs in rural areas in September 2012. For several months, there had been no response due mainly to the vacancy in the Technical Director position. Right before this position was filled in the summer 2013, we received from acting technical director a notice that our $1,000,000 funding request has been approved, but at a reduced amount of $600,000 along with another Rwandan bank that is launching mVISA platform also. It was a wonderful news.

But, later we received a letter notifying that the grant request has been declined due to complaints filed by other financial institutions. Disappointing! But I do not dwell too long in the disappointing news. What can you do with a dead body? We felt that God must have had a different plan.

Surprisingly, however, we received a phone call from AFR early October, saying that they would reconsider our grant application subject to some modification. Hallelujah! I knew I believed in the resurrection!

We re-submitted the grant proposal with some modifications made and KPIs to measure our performance, which was approved in late October, with a few questionable moments. Finally, last week, on November 6th, we signed the grant agreement. The amount has been reduced to $300,000, but it is sufficient to support agent quality management activities for the next two years.

mHose Agent Sign
God has been so faithful in providing resources needed to design, develop and launch UOB's mHose mVISA platform, an interoperable mobile and agent banking solution. First, He provided us with a $200,000 grant from UNCDF two years ago, which helped us kickstart the program by hiring the program manager and invest in the product design and development. Later, God provided us with technical assistance through Triple Jump Advisory Services. A four consultants helped us with detailed product development, procedures manual development, call center establishment etc. After this technical assistance, God provided us with additional $140,000 through Gates Foundation for flexible uses. We launched the solution in April 2013 at last. In the meantime, God used Internal Finance Corporation (IFC) for providing us with additional $680,000 in grant and technical assistance to support agent network development. He must have felt that we needed additional resources for agent quality management. So He has chosen AFR to provide us with additional $300,000 even through the process of death and resurrection of the grant proposal! mHose has been a testimonial story of how God provides for His people when the needs are justified.

Since it was launched in April 2013, mHose has signed up more than 13,000 clients and 100 agents. The transaction volume for the month of October alone was more than $1.1 million through more than 33,000 transactions. That is an incredibly fast uptake. We are excited about the way rural clients will have access to financial services using their cell phones.

Thank you, Lord! I praise Your Name eternally! - Jeffrey 

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