mSTAR Highlights of 2017
In Liberia, thousands of health and education workers enrolled in mobile money. In Bangladesh, loan payments were revolutionized for farmers. Globally, a new toolkit was launched to help close the digital gender divide. As we begin gearing up for the new year, it’s incredible to think of everything we achieved in 2017.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights this year brought the mSTAR team:
Mobile Money in Liberia
In Liberia, mobile money is changing the way civil servants in rural areas receive their salary. Since 2016 when mSTAR/Liberia activities began, 803 health workers and 2,299 education workers spanning 11 counties have enrolled in mobile salary payments. In addition, mSTAR helped facilitate a second digital service provider, Orange, to implement mobile money payments with the Government of Liberia. An increase in healthy competition for Liberia’s DFS market will prove beneficial for civil servants by driving down prices, increasing service points and more. mSTAR also produced many materials to educate civil servants on the mobile money process such as a training video, cartoon, poster, brochure and much more. Mobile salary payments have saved health and education workers surveyed a day and a half of time. Now, they can spend more time with their patients and students.
Accomplishments in Bangladesh
In addition to Liberia, mSTAR had many accomplishments in Bangladesh. Starting in September 2013, the primary goal of the project was to help USAID implementing partners digitize their payments. From 2013 to the successful closeout of mSTAR/Bangladesh in fall 2017, mSTAR’s efforts helped over 25,000 individuals enrolled in DFS accounts and mSTAR helped USAID IPs and beneficiaries transact more than $2.2 million through DFS. mSTAR also helped pilot test two new DFS innovations to promote financial inclusion to smallholder farmers, resulting in over 3,100 farmers registering in these initiatives. These new financial products will allow farmers access to agricultural loans, savings, transfers and merchant payments. mSTAR showcased its Bangladesh work in a video watched more than 1,000 times.
Closing the Digital Gender Divide
In November, the Gender and ICT Survey Toolkit was launched! The toolkit was designed to help close the digital gender divide by not only addressing how to close the gender gap, but understanding why there is one to begin with. With 1.7 billion women not owning mobile phones, this resource can assist development practitioners in understanding the specific barriers for digital gender inclusion and work to effectively drive change.
In 2017, mSTAR used its skills and knowledge to implement positive changes in the development sector as a whole and in people’s everyday lives. It is exciting to watch the impact of our digital development activities grow over time as they take hold across the development sector and beneficiary populations. mSTAR looks forward to continue its efforts into 2018!