Women in Phillipines Use Smart Phones to Be Mobile Entrepreneurs

January 18, 2016

Takeaways

Qualcomm's Mobile Money Hub gives women in Phillipines a new way to build a business.

Worldwide, 2.5 billion people lack access to financial services such as banking, ATMs, or credit cards, making it difficult for them to make payments or transfer money. This is particularly true in emerging regions such as the Philippines, where 37% of municipalities have no banking office at all.

Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ is collaborating with a social enterprise called Hapinoy on the Mobile Money Hub program, which uses smartphones, 3G connectivity, and specialized mobile applications to empower Nanay (Tagalog for “mother”) microentrepreneurs in the Philippines to offer new financial services to their communities and grow their sari-sari stores into sustainable family businesses. Sari-sari stores are small, neighborhood convenience shops that Nanays often operate out of their homes. Nanays typically engage in this microbusiness to supplement their family’s income.

For the Mobile Money Hub program, Hapinoy and Wireless Reach developed a holistic program that provides Nanays who become Mobile Money Hub agents with Android smartphones, education and training in mobile financial literacy, access to capital via microfinancing institutions, and new business opportunities using mobile wallet technology.

Participants use their 3G devices to sell airtime and offer newly developed mobile financial services. Offering features such as access to money, remittances, and bill and loan payments generates higher store traffic and new revenue streams for Nanays while contributing to the financial well-being of their families and communities. For some women participants in the Typhoon Haiyan–affected area of Leyte, access to mobile tools has enabled them to rebuild their homes, businesses, and lives after the 2013 disaster left many devastated in its wake.

Results

The Mobile Money Hub program launched in 2014. Among the results to date:

  • Development of a needs-driven, locally relevant, holistic application that provides Nanays access to financial services.
  • Enrolled, educated, and trained 100 Nanays to use project-provided mobile devices as Mobile Money Hub agent.
  • Entrepreneurs began offering remittance and airtime services that have proven to be vital during emergency situations.
  • Hapinoy is continuing to develop a “business-in-aphone” package that will enable many more Nanays to become successful and sustain Mobile Money Hub agents who offer access to new products and services in their communities.

Examples

Below are several examples that show how Mobile Money Hub agents are making a difference in their communities:

Nanay Bella Sadongdong’s store is located next door to the local hospital, and most of her customers are patients’ relatives. “Sometimes, I have to deliver the remittance money inside the hospital because some of my clients cannot afford to leave their relatives alone,” said Sadongdong. She has many stories of being awoken in the middle of the night to help provide an immediate loan for potentially lifesaving surgeries or medical procedures.

Nanay Peonyfe Antoc’s store is located near a temporary relocation site for 200 families who were displaced by the typhoon. Her remittance business gives these families the convenience of receiving money locally rather than spending their money on transportation to go and retrieve the money downtown, far from their homes.

Many of Nanay Alicia Dumdum’s customers are students who are studying far away from their families. Mobile money access enables them to receive much-needed money from their parents for daily expenses or school projects.

Lessons Learned

By examining effective strategies, challenges, and outcomes in the Philippines as well as across the entire program portfolio of Wireless Reach, we’re able to share lessons learned to help innovators achieve success:

  • Plan purposefully for mobile device implementation and usage by effectively educating and training participants.
  • Develop applications and services that are locally relevant and created from needs assessments of end users and their communities.
  • Monitor and measure project results with meaningful metrics that determine impact and success with validated outcomes.
  • Create a sustainable, scalable ecosystem that assists all parties in a public-private partnership to reach their respective goals.

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in Private Sector Leadership in Financial Inclusion.]