|Agent financing with Kiva|
An innovative partnership between Zoona and Kiva is helping Zambian entrepreneurs build their businesses across the country.
A network of cash agents across Zambia is a key part of Zoona's mission to enable Zambians wherever they are to access easy, quick and safe transactional services.
Champion agents are budding entrepreneurs given the chance to run their own business by Zoona. Agents undergo rigorous selection and then training to help them set up and run their own money transfer outlet. One of the greatest challenges for agents is to raise the finance to purchase a booth/shop and generate working capital, either to get their business going or expand a successful enterprise.
Initially Zoona was providing agents with loans but this was slowing down the rate at which agents could be recruited. A meeting between Mike Quinn, Zoona CEO, and Matt Flannery, one of the founders of Kiva, at a Skoll World Forum in Oxford has led to an innovative and successful partnership. Kiva, a San Francisco non-profit organization, takes a novel approach to development and microlending, it uses the internet to enable individuals to lend directly to those in the developing world to support entrepreneurs.
It was with immense excitement that on Saturday January 28th, 2012 loan requests went live on Kiva’s website with profiles (including video interviews) of three Champion Agents. By the end of Saturday 847 people from around the world had fulfilled the $15,000 fundraising target. As of April 2012, 15 agents have been fully funded with many more to come as Zoona continues to build its network of agents across Zambia.
View all the Champions on Kiva here.
The first agents have already started to repay their loans from commissions on money transfers. Memory Chirwa of Zoona who helps agents write their profiles for the Kiva website said ‘I can’t believe how smooth and simple the process of raising funds using Kiva has been. It’s great that people from around the world are helping our agents build their businesses.’
This is not just something new for Zoona but this is also Kiva’s second non-microfinance partnership and first-ever mobile payments partner. Kiva is excited about Zoona's success, as it is the first partner to post videos and has been raising bigger loans and record times that other partners.
At a personal level the opportunity afforded to agents through Zoona and Kiva has life changing effects. This is the story of just one of the agents.
Aness is a Champion Agent in Chirundu, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. At 25, Aness is expecting her first child. She has a passion for helping people and she believes providing easy, quick and safe mobile money services is vital for her community, which is just learning how new technology can help them in their day to day lives.
She has grown her business from one customer a day to thirty. The Kiva loan has enabled her to increase her working capital to satisfy her ever growing customer base, saving many trips to the bank to convert her cash to electronic and vice versa. The loan has also enabled her to buy chairs for her shop to make it more conducive to educating prospective clients and more comfortable for herself.
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