Although women are making tremendous progress in Afghanistan, they still lag behind in financial inclusion. Today, though, staff at Aisha-i-Durani High School in Kabul, 90 percent of whom are women, are joining the formal financial sector through mobile money.
In March 2013, teachers at the school learned how easy it is to access their salaries using just their mobile phones. Through a hands-on demonstration, they were able to test the new system by using credits to “pay” for their lunch using the point-of-sale terminal as a form of merchant payment. In the future, they can use their “mobile wallets’ with local merchants. As public employees, the mobile wallets give them access to bank accounts with Maiwand Bank, which allow them to access other financial tools through the bank.
The 90 teachers were able to see first-hand that using mobile money is safe, transparent, and convenient, laying the groundwork for the pilot program to be expanded to more than 30,000 teachers in about 200 schools across Afghanistan by 2014. Based on the success of the pilot, several other local banks and mobile operators are poised to deploy this system to more than 800,000 Afghan government employees nationwide.
The mobile money demonstration was part of a partnership of USAID, the Association of Mobile Money Operators in Afghanistan, Maiwand Bank, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance, and Chemonics to expand financial services to women, who are underrepresented in the country’s financial sector. The USAID Financial Access for Investing in the Development of Afghanistan project, which is managed by Chemonics, helps the Afghan government and private sector generate and sustain top-quality jobs by strengthening the country’s financial sector. The project’s mobile money innovation grant fund is supporting this effort.
Chemonics is a proud member of the Better Than Cash Alliance launched by USAID, which supports the transition to electronic payments, which are faster, cheaper, and more transparent than paper and promote financial inclusion and market access.