Innovation That Matters

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Connecting the informal economy in Africa with digital tech

Springwise ChangeNOW

The banking platform works offline and connects smallholder farmers with new markets

Spotted: A surprising change that came about as part of the global coping strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic is the growth in access to banking services. Fintech-enabled inclusion is at a never-before-seen rate, with account ownership percentages increasing by double digits in 34 countries since 2017. By 2021, just over 76 per cent of adults around the world had a bank account with a mobile money provider, bank, or other financial institution.  

Mobile banking has been one of the most important means of expanding banking access for underserved communities and particularly those in rural areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, the agricultural sector generates around 18 per cent of the GDP, yet the sector only receives around one per cent of bank lending in the region. Hiveonline is using blockchain technology to provide new, cooperative banking services for farmers and other small business owners in various countries, including Niger, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and Mozambique. 

Hiveonline supplies e-Vouchers to make it easier to manage assistance programmes and distribute essential finance. The company also runs an online community finance hub for agricultural co-operatives to help support farmers as they develop financial resilience and scale up production, enabling them to reach new and larger markets as well as provide customers with traceable products. 

And with the organisation’s digital solution for Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs), unbanked communities can more easily access financial services with a platform that facilitates micro-transactions and can be linked to existing mobile banking systems. The online banking site,, currently operates multiple languages, including Swahili, Hausa, Zarma (Niger), French, English, and Spanish, and communities can add local languages as needed. 

Multiple mobile banking accounts can be accessed securely using a single mobile phone, and access is available offline, too. Financial institutions can use the platform to connect with individuals and groups that would otherwise be unable to use their services. Blockchain provides data security and remote monitoring of real-time data and transactions, enabling lenders to lower the risk of funding microloans. 

Supporting unbanked people is a complex field, and Springwise has spotted a range of innovations in the archive that provide nano credit for low-income entrepreneurs as well as a means of utilising alternative data sets for loans for individuals who would not qualify through traditional applications.

Written By: Keely Khoury



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