M-Pesa reaches M50m mark

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Bereng Mpaki

MORE than M50 million has been moved through the facility Vodacom Lesotho’s M-Pesa which has facilitated business transactions within and among various sectors ranging from health, education, economic empowerment and gender.

This was revealed by Vodacom Foundation and Communications Manager, Mpho Brown at the recent Vodacom Lesotho’s M-Pesa Business Unit breakfast meeting in Maseru which was organised to honour clients that have disbursed over M1 million during the period April to December 2016 using the M-Pesa Bulk Pay Facility. The M50 million was transacted during this period.

M-Pesa Bulk Pay is an electronic money facility that allows organisations to send funds to their beneficiaries speedily, conveniently and cost-effectively.

Organisations need only to have internet access to load their payroll information and disburse funds directly into their recipient’s mobile wallets. The funds disbursed can be salaries, wages, once-off wages, donor funds and social welfare payments and loans.

The meeting was attended by clients that included international non-governmental organisations, government ministries, the Ministry of Social Development –Child Grants Programme (CGP), Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Partners in Health, Red Cross, World Vision, Jaguar Textiles and Edro Constructions.

One of the clients, Thaothe Bosiu who is the Finance Director of Partners in Health praised the M-Pesa Bulk Pay facility for enabling his organisation to disburse funds without any security concerns and with convenience and speed.

He also hailed M-Pesa Bulk Pay facility for totally eradicating the need to travel in order to make payments to their beneficiaries.

M-Pesa Bulk Pay Facility has also been used in the education sector, enabling the swift payment of school fees, allowing schools to conveniently receive school fees payments on time without any delays, and saving them the trouble of having to handle cash on the premises thereby reducing risk of theft.

For parents and scholars, M-Pesa has been found to eliminate trips to the bank and the associated bank charges for transacting.

“We are firm in our belief that technology can drastically improve learning outcomes in schools, we are giving all schools within the country an opportunity to win a state-of-the-art Computer Laboratory by being M-Pesa merchants and collecting school fees through M-Pesa,” Mr Brown said.

“This initiative which has been running from the 1st of July and will go on until 31 March, 2017, will see the school with the highest proportion of fees paid through M-Pesa win a fully equipped Computer laboratory which consists of: Vodacom Branded Container (8mX 3m), 9 Computers with Software (Windows and Office), Desks and Chairs, Generator, and Wimax Internet for 3 months,” he added.

Mr Brown further indicated that schools with the highest number of transactions would win eight months’ worth of internet connectivity. To date more than 40 schools have registered as M-Pesa Merchants.

He said the initiative was a reflection of Vodacom’s commitment to support and drive sustainable initiatives to alleviate some of Lesotho’s most pressing social challenges.

He said technology was the future and it transformed the way children learn and interact with educational material, giving them a competitive edge over their peers.

In the health sector, Vodacom Lesotho came up with the Moyo Lesotho, an initiative that is investing over M100 million into Lesotho’s health system with the aim to put HIV positive children and pregnant women on life-saving treatment as well as to improve maternal health outcomes for Basotho.

“The programme combines Vodacom’s M-Pesa mobile money service – which is widely used across sub-Saharan Africa – with travelling clinics and a smartphone app designed for healthcare professionals which enables the tracking of patients in remote areas,” Mr Brown said.

“The travelling (mobile) clinics – using a fleet of 4×4 vehicles – provide on-site HIV testing in remote areas as part of a wider effort to provide basic primary healthcare. When people are identified as HIV positive, they are immediately registered with the M-Pesa mobile money service and receive the M-Pesa funds needed to pay for transportation to a treatment centre.

At the same time, their details are recorded – via mobile – on a central database so that their future treatment and care can be planned and recorded.  These details can then be recalled in real time by healthcare professionals in the field using a smartphone app produced by Vodacom Lesotho.”

In addition, M-Pesa has not only provided the under-banked population with a leeway but it is also responsible for economically empowering families of M-Pesa agents through the commission they generate for Vodacom Lesotho.

One such M-Pesa agent who is deriving a comfortable living through operating an M-Pesa agency is Qoachela Khoto.

Based in Masianokeng, Mr Khoto said he was achieving his dreams through the business and would continue to achieve more in future.

“When I began this business I did not anticipate this kind of growth and maybe that is because it was not easy in the beginning and I had to put in a lot of work,” Mr Khoto said.

“But today I am happy to have taken a chance on it as I am able to feed my family from this business, and I have also been able to hire someone whom I pay monthly,” he said, adding that his M-Pesa agency was also boosting business at his barbershop.

“When people come to seek M-Pesa services, they discover that we also have barbershop services and they also consume our barbershop services,” he added.

He said M-Pesa also enabled the elderly to deposit their pension funds, giving them security against possible theft at home.

There are at least 2500 M-Pesa agents countrywide and since its introduction in Lesotho in 2013, M-Pesa gone from offering basic services such as sending money and buying airtime, to paying bills to merchants, buying electricity units, making cross border transfers, as well as converting airtime to M-Pesa balance among other functions.

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