The Rise of Gender Capitalism
(SSIR) Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall 2014
Investing with a gender lens can create financial and social impact by increasing women’s access to capital, promoting workplace equity, and creating products and services that improve the lives of women and girls.
Sarah Kaplan & Jackis Vanderbrug
Illustration by Kaley McKean
Click illustration to access article
How it Works: MPesa Pay-as-You-Go energy connects a portable solar device to a mobile phone for light.
CGAP has released an overview and analysis of solar solutions for off-grid energy, including mobile phone connections.
Digital Finance and Solar Energy
Over 1.3 billion people worldwide live without access to electricity. Modern, small-scale solar solutions are now on the market, and digital finance is going a long way toward making these more affordable and accessible in poor communities.
Pay-as-you-go via mobile phone is becoming a viable way to access energy for people who live off grid. In Kenya, where MPesa is ubiquitous, customers can access energy for light on their mobile phones.
Digital Finance: Enabling Energy Access for the Poor
The rapid uptake and velocity of mobile financial transactions in Bangladesh has led to bKash becoming a vernacular verb, as in bKash me; i.e.send me the money via bKash.
Registered mobile financial services accounts in Bangladesh grew faster than in any other country in 2013. More than 80 percent of transactions are through a single company—bKash Limited.
Unlike large mobile money businesses in other countries, bKash is not a mobile network operator (MNO), and did not have an existing customer base to target for mobile financial services.
Three factors combined to drive bKash’s fast start:
1. Purpose driven model focused on delivering mobile financial services as its core business
2. Vision for scale shared by a diverse investor group
3. Enabling and flexible regulatory environment
As stand-alone drivers of growth, these factors are not uncommon in other markets. In the case of bKash in Bangladesh, all three conditions combined to enable rapid uptake.
Women, children, and men work inside tobacco factories in Bangladesh to produce bidi, hand-rolled cigarettes with low grade tobacco. Workers have little or no protection against toxic chemicals and dust from the tobacco.
“They have signs outside the factories that say we don’t have child labor, but inside it’s a different thing. Children usually roll the papers at home and fill them in the factories, then tie them that night and submit them the next day.”
Moving Money: Remittances by Phone in Bangladesh
bKash makes it easier and cheaper for the urban poor in Bangladesh to send money to their families in rural areas where financial access is low and poverty rates are high.
With financial backing from BRAC Bank, bKash entered the mobile financial services market in Bangladesh in 2011. Today, there are over 13 million registered mobile banking accounts, and $900 million in transactions per month through 150,000 agents.
bKash is expanding its financial services to include salary disbursements, government to person (G2P) payments, savings, loan repayments, and revenue collection.
Mobile Technology Drives Auto-Rickshaw Transactions Lifting Driver Income
Start up companies in India are using technology to connect auto-rickshaw drivers with customers. In a market segment where drivers do not have smartphones or GPS, Autowale developed an algorithm that predicts an auto-rickshaw’s potential route for the day, and assigns pickups with text messages. Customers request a rickshaw through the company’s app, website or by using Autowale’s call center. The velocity of rides and fares raises driver income and delivers market efficiencies on the demand side. Uber India does not compete in this space, focusing upscale on the taxi market segment.
Text and Ride in India, New York Times