VODACOM’S mobile money platform, M-pesa has made phenomenal impact in the finance and health and education sectors over the last five years that it has been on the market.
This was said by executive head of M-pesa, Palesa Mphunyetsane, in a recent interview with the Lesotho Times in celebration of the platform’s fifth anniversary.
Introduced on 5 July 2013 with basic services like money transfer and airtime purchases, Ms Mphunyetsane said the platform has come a long way and has now introduced new life changing functions.
Bill payments, cross border transfers, airtime conversion to M-Pesa are some of the new additions to consolidate M-pesa’s rapidly growing reputation on the market.
She said the platform now has a staggering 831 913 registered users and has contributed immensely towards advancing financial inclusion for marginalised communities.
Ms Mphunyetsane said the service has also empowered hundreds of Basotho to start businesses and gain financial security. It has 4488 agents who generate income through their intermediary services between Vodacom and users.
“In 2014 M-Pesa had only 703 agents and the number has increased to 4488 registered agents by the end of February 2018; with many creating entire businesses out of M-PESA,” Ms Mphunyetsane said.
“Yearly, the role played by M-Pesa in the lives of its customers has widened as Basotho embrace the platform for a greater number of services. This is evident in the notable increase in the number of customers actively using the service.
“From only 19 000 customers in the 2013/14 financial year, the base grew to 100 000 customers in the following financial year. The growth has been nothing short of phenomenal. M-Pesa currently boasts of 831 913 registered customers from 395 000 customers in the 2016/17 financial year.”
She further added that the introduction of bulk pay service onto the platform was a game changer towards financial inclusion.
“The M-pesa Bulk Pay has vastly advanced financial inclusion for marginalised communities, bringing previously financially excluded persons into the formal financial services net.”
She said the function continues to assist many organisations to disburse funds without any security threat. This, she said, is done with convenience and speed to their beneficiaries some of whom are in the remotest parts of the country.
“Institutions which continue to benefit from the convenience of the service include but not limited to the Ministry of Social Development –Child Grants Programme (CGP) EGPAF, Action Aid, Partners in Health, Red Cross, World Vision, Jaguar Textile and Edro Constructions.”
The platform has also been instrumental in Vodacom Lesotho’s initiative of fighting against HIV and AIDS. Through the Moyo Project, Vodacom Lesotho has invested over M100 million into Lesotho’s health system over three years.
The company targets to afford HIV positive children and pregnant women on life-saving treatment and to improve maternal health outcomes.
“The programme combines Vodacom’s M-Pesa mobile money service with travelling clinics and a smartphone app designed for healthcare professionals which enables them to track patients in remote areas. The travelling 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.
“HIV patients are immediately registered with M-Pesa mobile money service and receive the M-Pesa funds that are 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,” Ms Mphunyetsane said.
The mobile clinics are run in partnership with Baylor International Paediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) and Riders for Health. Other partners in the wider Lesotho programme include USAID, ViiV Healthcare, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Elma Philanthropies.
In addition to BIPAI and Riders for Health, the Foundation is also working closely with NGOs such as Kick4Life and PSI to deliver the programme.