DEG, a subsidiary of KfW Group, Germany, announces equity capital of EUR 4 million into Ethiopian payment platform, M-BIRR.
M-BIRR, which says it is the first mobile money service provider in Ethiopia, is a cashless money transfer and payment service which provides an alternative to a bank branch by enabling payment by mobile phone (“mobile money”) and DEG (Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH), is investing €4 million in the provider of this mobile money platform and sees it as playing a part in improving access to banking services in Ethiopia on a wider scale.
It is reported that the population of Ethiopia is about a 100 million people and more than three quarters do not have any access to banking services so this investment is a major boost in bridging this gap. The additional investors include the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Finnish development finance company Finnfund which has been a shareholder in M-BIRR since as early as 2012.
“DEG is providing equity capital for an innovative private company in one of the least developed countries in the world. By investing in M-BIRR, we are helping to advance financial inclusion in Ethiopia and to provide even more people with access to payment transactions“, said Andreas Zeisler, Head of DEG’s Financial Institutions Equity department.
M-BIRR was inspired by the success story of the Kenyan provider M-PESA, which began in 2007. The company was created by Thierry Artaud and Jim Noctor in 2009. At year-end 2017, over one million customers were registered on the platform for mobile money transactions.
We understand six financial institutions in Ethiopia currently partner with M-BIRR to deliver the service. The new capital is earmarked for the business expansion and for increasing outreach in the country and this will create 60 new jobs at M-BIRR, with additional indirect employment of over 400 in the agents network.
A bit about the Africa focused German VC.
For decades now, Africa has been a focal region for DEG, a subsidiary of the KfW Group. It is primarily involved in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to investments in agriculture and private infrastructure, finance arrangements in the financial sector play a key role. In this respect, FinTechs such as M-BIRR are becoming increasingly important. This field brings together innovative technologies that are used in financial services.
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Womenpreneur Digital Hub to Promote Digital Skills & More for MENA Women
The Entrepreneurship Academy of the SANAD Fund for MSME and Womenpreneur Initiative have once again teamed up to champion women’s economic equality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In March 2021, the partners launched the Womenpreneur Digital Hub, an online knowledge and resource-sharing platform that aims to expand women’s access to skills-building tools in a time when lockdowns and economic contraction have disproportionately impacted female employment in the region.
The coronavirus crisis has forced many women out of the workplace through a constellation of factors: Economically, it has taken a particularly heavy toll on sectors where women are overrepresented, such as retail, care, and food service. School and daycare closures have added further pressure, with many households placing the responsibility for at-home schooling and childcare solely upon women. As a result, although women in MENA comprise only a quarter of the region’s total workforce, they account for over half of COVID-related job losses.
The Womenpreneur Digital Hub aims to help women regain their economic footing through a three-fold approach. First, online training will be offered free of charge for hub members to hone skills that empower them on the job market, such as financial knowledge, digital literacy, and business management. High-profile speakers will provide insights into current industry trends and tips on accessing career opportunities. Second, the hub will connect users for mutual information and support, experience exchange, and valuable network-building. In this way, the platform intends to accelerate the third factor, which is to open up potential employment paths for those whose careers have been upended by the crisis.
Ines Ebrecht, Chairperson of the SANAD Technical Assistance Facility which runs the SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy, said: “Women’s employment is not only a social justice issue, it is also an economic one. Women’s ability to participate in the workforce not only provides them with financial stability and freedom on an individual level, it also enables an economy to fully open the tap on creativity, entrepreneurship, productivity, and income generation. The SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy is glad to once again join with Womenpreneur Initiative to advance gender parity as a key to prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Womenpreneur CEO and founder Sana Afouaiz said: “The pandemic provoked a major setback in gender equality and threatens to walk back decades of progress. Yet we can also pivot to grasp the opportunities. As the world entered into lockdown, the transition to online work has created a growing demand for digital jobs. The Womenpreneur Digital Hub is targeted toward equipping women to future-proof their skills and give them valuable knowledge for the employment market. Our aim is to ensure that every woman and girl in MENA has access to the tools that will help her realize her full economic potential.”
Sign up for the hub at: www.womenpreneur-digital.com
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