By JUDITH NAMUTOWE –
THE MasterCard Foundation Fund for rural prosperity has launched a US$50 million challenge fund to extend financial services to people living in poverty.
The fund was launched under the 2016 Scaling Competition on April 14 in Accra, Ghana.
This is contained in a statement issued by the foundation and made available to the Times in Lusaka yesterday.
The eight-week competition is aimed at supporting the expansion of proven ideas for financial products, services or processes into new geographies and new customer segment in rural areas.
The 2016 competition has since opened and would run up to June 10, with applications being accepted from anywhere in the world but would be implemented in one or more of eight countries of focus on Africa including Zambia.
MasterCard Foundation director of financial inclusion and youth livelihoods, Ann Miles, said in 2015, a total of US$35 million was made available to provide financial support for promising ideas which expand services and improve financial inclusion for smallholder farmers.
Ms Miles said five companies were awarded more than $10.6 million during the launch for their innovative work and to alleviate poverty by increasing access to financial services for poor people in rural Africa.
The five companies introduced imaginative thinking in their approach to scaling up financial inclusion, the increase in access to services such as mobile banking, savings accounts, insurance and credit for the benefit of nearly eight million people in remote parts of Africa.
The minimum an organisation can apply for is $750,000 with the maximum limit being $2.5 million, in a competition that has two categories, namely Innovation and Scaling.