M-Pesa is a mobile money service that was officially launched in Kenya, in March 2007, by Safaricom (part of the Vodafone Group), the local Kenyan leading mobile phone operator. MPesa provides both ‘banked’ and ‘unbanked’ individuals with access to money transactions at affordable prices. M-Pesa works by allowing registered individuals to withdraw cash, store money, make payments and send money P-2-P using their mobile phones.
Background and Context
The M-Pesa project started in 2003 by Nick Hughes of Vodafone. Nick was Head of Global Payments at Vodafone in the UK3 and was tasked with helping the company to understand its role in addressing development issues such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)4 . Nick had previously headed a climate change programme at BP. He, like many others, believed that access to finance facilitates entrepreneurial activity, thus creating wealth through economic activity, job creation and trade. He was aware that in emerging markets transferring money is challenging due to poor infrastructure and the fact that very few people hold bank accounts. Moving cash in Kenya was risky, costly and slow. People had limited choices; they could use expensive services, such as, MoneyGram, Postapay or Western Union, ferry money via ‘letter parcels’5 with bus companies or travel long distances themselves with cash on public buses at the risk of being robbed.
This was an innovative ground-breaking project that required commitment, dedication and resourcefulness in order to achieve the aim of ‘materially changing the lives of many people for the better’6 and members of the core team gave well beyond what they were contracted to do.
for more info on M – Pesa visit http://www.proudlymadeinafrica.org/