Mobile Money with USAID and Film Annex Afghanistan

Mobile Money with USAID and Film Annex Afghanistan

Recently, I wrote about how USAID provided Film Annex Afghanistan with the infrastructure so that we could provide the "The Last Mile" for our first Internet classroom. Next, we needed to find a safe way with USAID to pay our students and staff so that the money actually gets into their hands. Last week, I traveled back on the train from Washington DC with Francesco Rulli after our usaid meeting with USAID's Mr. Clinton L. Doggett, USAID Project Development Manager, and Ms. Kathleen A. McGowan, USAID Senior Policy Adviser. Many questions were answered during the meeting, but there were still some questions about how Film Annex can make secure incentive payments to students and also make payments to Film Annex Afghanistan workers and contractors.

After a series of emails and exchanges over the weekend, we have identified a payment system with USAID for Film Annex Afghanistan and Citadel Software. USAID has signed innovation agreements with three major Afghan mobile network operators:

    * Etisalat,
    * MTN, and
    * Roshan M-Paisa.

Mobile Money For Afghanistan

Mobile money allows people and organizations to transfer money instantaneously and in full to a "mobile wallet" account on a cell phone handset and withdraw cash as necessary at local retailers. In Afghanistan, 96% of people lack bank accounts, while about half the population now use mobile phones, and service is available in most of the country. Using mobile payments to extend and repay loans should significantly improve efficiency and sustainability by reducing overhead costs associated with micro lending. In the film below:

    * Richard Adams from AWCC and Estelle Van Nerkerk from Etisalat explain how the system works,
    * Safiullah Ahmadi from the Afghan Social Outreach program talks about the benefits of mobile technology, and
    * Khalid Dawar explains that he works for a company that pays him through this system.

Watch more on Film Annex

The Film Annex/Citadel Mobile Money Application

In order to encourage families to bring their children to school, we would execute the following model with USAid to promote Mobile Money.

USAID has a target of 150,000+ users in Afghanistan and Film Annex can help. Citadel Software has the Examer software education program and we can track test results in all schools using the program or using it online on the Film Annex platform.

Students can be rewarded with Micro Scholarships when they pass a test with good grades. Instead of asking the school to issue the money, Film Annex can issue it directly on the students or parents mobile account.

Example: My name is Heray and I am a 12 year old student in a Herat school. I have 3 brothers and 4 sisters. My father and mother know how to write a little and work very hard, but they are not sure if school can help us. My school has a new Internet classroom and when I go online I can work on an online test on Examer. When I pass a test I can win $1 per test or citadel examermore, and if I am the best student in Herat, I can also go to NYC and win an international scholarship. I can chose between a few tests:

    * Mathematics - $1 scholarship from Toscana of Italy.
    * English - $2 scholarship from the USA company, EnglishStrategies.
    * Social Media - $3 scholarship from Film Annex.

Today, I won the English Scholarship and my parents received a payment of $2 on their mobile phone. My parents are very happy and they have asked me to win the Social Media scholarship, and I need to learn how to use Facebook, Google+ and Twitter! My parents are also helping me to create the profiles and post nice family pictures.

My parents are asking my sister Elaha to apply to the same program online!! Now I won the Film Annex scholarship of $3 and I can also make money online with Film Annex if I write good blogs in English and I can make additional money on the Film Annex advertsing platform! My sister Roya won that scholaship earlier this year and she has been in NYC for a month! I think she might get a Visa to work with a USA company soon and create more educational content for Dari and Farsi speaking children. My parents are very happy that I go to school, and help support the family. Now my mother is publishing cooking recipies and growing relationships wih European and US housewives using her ideas, and she is geting Mobile Money payments from other companies that use the same technology.

USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah wrote on the USAID Blog:

"With 3G looming just over the horizon (the Afghan Government issued the first tender earlier this month), it is clear that Afghans will increasingly use mobile phones and other modern technologies to build a healthier, better educated and more prosperous society.  The days of land-lines or coal-fired development are rapidly being replaced with these new innovations, and I am proud that USAID is able to help unleash Afghan innovation to lead the way."