“bKash is merely a tool that opens up an exciting frontier of innovation to make mobile money system a mainstream financial service.” -Kamal Quadir, CEO, bKash
The introduction and rapid growth of mobile money in Bangladesh has created opportunities for new solutions to poverty. Last year, with the support of the Gates Foundation, BRAC implemented several pilots incorporating mobile money as part of their design. A recent video from one of the projects, working on a ‘cashless’ branch in remote char areas, illustrates some of the early achievements of the project.
While not without challenges and surprises, our experiences indicated that we should be thinking bigger, about how we could significantly scale the use of mobile money in our operations.
Crowdsourcing ideas, especially from the frontlines
Earlier this year, we issued a global call for ideas and received close to 400 ideas. BRAC leadership shortlisted 18 ideas that were developed by various programmes into more comprehensive proposals. Last week, seven projects were selected for implementation this year, including:
Two of the projects piloted last year received funding for further scale-up. They are:
The BRAC Social Innovation Lab, which is managing this Innovation Fund, is particularly excited by the participation of BRAC’s frontline staff in the idea challenge. Our shortlisted ideas came from 19 staff, from all corners of Bangladesh, all united in their belief in BRAC’s responsibility and potential to innovate. They received awards from BRAC’s chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, on May 31.
World leaders in development like Bill Gates and Jim Kim have said that mobile money can transform the lives of the poor. At the award ceremony, Dr Muhammad Musa, BRAC’s executive director said, “By integrating mobile money systems into different service components of BRAC, it will set a new example in the era of technology.”
Through these projects, BRAC hopes to be a pioneer in how this can actually be done—leveraging our core principles of innovation.
Grace P Sengupta is an assistant manager with the BRAC’s social innovation lab
Maria A May is a senior programme manager with the BRAC’s social innovation lab, and microfinance programme