Nuru International is using innovative new technologies for mobile banking to increase access to basic financial services for rural households living in extreme poverty in Kuria, Kenya. We are working with Mifos cloud-based MIS and M-PESA mobile money transfer services to create a viable solution to some of the issues that persist in providing financial services in rural areas.

One of the biggest problems we face when it comes to finance and banking for the extreme rural poor is how to disburse loans and payments to our farmers, we don’t want to give large amounts of cash to them because they have to cover long distances on foot, have no secure place to keep the cash, and robbery and theft are real concerns. — Vivian Lu, Community Economic Development Program Manager.

Nuru’s microfinance program has helped extend the reach of mobile money in rural Kenya. The combined technologies of Mifos and M-PESA have helped to create a branchless banking structure, allowing Nuru members in remote areas of Kenya access to some of the basic financial services that traditional banks offer. M-PESA is a mobile phone based money transfer service offered through Safaricom, allowing users to transfer money to other users, pay bills, and purchase air time. The service has great potential to be leveraged in mobile banking, allowing people to complete basic financial transactions without needing to visit a physical bank. Mifos is developing integration with M-PESA and allows Nuru an affordable way to scale. Because it’s a cloud-based application, Nuru can access it from mobile phones and netbooks, improving their reach in rural areas.

Nuru recognizes the importance of savings as a critical and often overlooked component to economic growth in rural areas. The Community Economic Development model is a savings-led program that offers financial training. Nuru members are trained in the fundamentals of financial planning, budgeting, saving, and responsible loan management, before they are eligible to apply for individual loans.