NATIONAL Microfinance Bank (NMB) has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Mastercard to ensure the digitization of the agricultural sector in the country.
The agreement entails rollout of e-Kilimo, a mobile solution developed by the Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion. Kilimo is Swahili for agriculture’. NMB Managing Director, Ineke Bussemaker, said yesterday during the launch that the pilot project will begin with the onboarding of the customers that source directly from smallholders.
“The field agents of the customers will use the eKilimo smartphone app to perform the purchase, including weighing the produce on a Bluetooth-enabled scale and paying the farmer digitally,” Ms Bussemaker said. The farmer will receive information and their payment from eKilimo, and will be able to leverage their transaction history to access credit from NMB.
“Our experience in the sector gives us a unique point of view, combined with insights from Mastercard following the launch of the solution in Kenya under the name 2KUZE,” NMB chief said. eKilimo is a digital platform that will help, introduce efficiency, security and transparency in the agriculture supply chain.
The solution will make transacting faster, safer, and easier for all stakeholders including the farmer, the buyer and the agent. Powered by the digital platform developed by the Mastercard Lab, farmers are now able to conduct the entire transaction process of receiving payments and selling produce via a feature or smartphone, without having to walk hours to markets.
Raghu Malhotra, President, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard said this helps to ensure farmers benefit from the ability to capture a higher percentage of the wholesale value of their goods by providing price transparency and more direct access to buyers.
“Technology is having a significant impact already, and the mobile device is giving small holder farmers the power and ability to move beyond cash,” said By providing digital payment to farmers, eKilimo will leverage the existing agency banking structure to facilitate account opening for farmers and joint ideation on new product features.
The solution which was developed at the Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion is part of a global commitment made by company to reach 500 million people currently excluded from the financial mainstream by 2020.
The East African Lab, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is set to empower 100 million people through its focused approach of developing market and sector relevant solutions underpinned by meaningful insights and local collaboration.