USAID Partners with Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Millicom to Support Women Entrepreneurs in Africa

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and leading network operator Millicom International Cellular S.A., are pleased to launch an innovative project to bring mobile financial services to women entrepreneurs throughout Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana.  Over a period of 18 months, this Global Development Alliance will provide over 4,000 women with business skills training and valuable opportunities to increase their income through mobile retail channels.

According to recent reports from the World Bank, an estimated 2.5 billion working-age adults globally have no access to formalized financial services. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular has the largest unbanked population, with only 12% of the region’s population having access to any form of formalized banking. 

In launching this new Global Development Alliance, USAID Chief Innovation Officer, Maura O’Neill, remarked: “Our opportunity to economically empower women through powerful, wide-reaching mobile technologies is more realizable now than ever before.  But our ability to succeed requires coordinated and collective action.  As such, we value our partnership with the private sector and influential foundations, such as Millicom and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.  The components of this partnership are ground-breaking, and we are excited to watch them unfold for the benefit of women and their families in Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana.”

Cherie Blair noted, “Women entrepreneurs stand to gain a great deal from selling mobile money products. With the right business training and working capital available, women entrepreneurs can benefit from being part of a mobile operator's value chain. Setting up mobile sales provides additional household income and the opportunity for these women to be financially independent.”

The women involved will have access to 12-month working capital loans for their mobile money businesses, distributed to the women entrepreneurs through Millicom’s mobile financial services platform. The initiative will deliver financial literacy and business development trainings for the women entrepreneurs, to support them in managing their loan repayments and their mobile money agent business.

Hans-Holger Albrecht, President and CEO for Millicom commented: “I am proud that we at Millicom can be part of financial inclusion in Africa. This public-private initiative with renowned partners such as the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and USAID will foster women’s entrepreneurship to the benefit of all in the local communities. The initiative will deliver financial literacy and business development training for the women entrepreneurs to support them in managing their mobile money agent business.”

This partnership will present opportunities for women mobile money agents to become profitable while at the same time attracting and retaining new customers. By increasing the number of female agents, this project aims to lower the barriers that women face in accessing financial service and to promote the innovative adoption of mobile technology amongst these women. It also aims to design a successful model for mobile operators around the world to replicate, in order to expand mobile money operations and financial inclusion for the unbanked.

For more information, please contact USAIDPressOfficers@usaid.gov

Last updated: July 24, 2014

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