Grameen Foundation and MasterCard Launch AppLab Money in Kenya with Jamii Bora as First Customer


Program aims to extend mobile financial services access to the unbanked and under-banked in Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya, April14, 2014 – MasterCard, has announced a collaboration with Grameen Foundation on AppLab Money, an initiative that is designed to create mobile financial services products for the unbanked and under-banked in Kenya. Grameen Foundation will work with Jamii Bora Bank to research, design and test products that will be delivered through Jamii Bora’s extensive operations across the country.

The collaboration was born out of the need to deepen the reach of financial products to low income communities across Kenya. Leveraging the vast penetration of the mobile phone, AppLab Money Kenya aims to take appropriate mobile financial services to the communities that are most in need of them. 

Commenting on the alliance, James Wainaina, Vice-President and Area Business Head, MasterCard East Africa said: “Today around 2.5 billion people - or roughly half of the world's adult population - lack access to credit, insurance, savings accounts, and other formal financial services. Our vision for Africa is to see cashless transactions bridge the gap for the financially disenfranchised. Our work with partners such as Grameen Foundation and Jamii Bora, with whom we share a common vision to extend financial services to the unbanked and under-banked in Kenya, will help us achieve that.”

Grameen Foundation works globally to create and scale financial products with the poor, through partnerships with financial institutions, telecom operators and payment technology firms. 

Erin Connor, Kenya Country Director, Grameen Foundation commented further: “Our aim is to demonstrate how appropriately designed financial products can improve the lives and livelihoods of the poor by reducing risk, improving financial security and increasing income. We are pleased to be working with institutions such as MasterCard and Jamii Bora that are already working across all levels of the consumer value chain to deliver inclusive financial products and services.”

The aim of this collaboration is for many low income communities in the country to have deepened access to innovative financial products that can get to them right where they are. According to the 2013 FINACCESS National Survey, 76% of the rural population can access a mobile money agent as the nearest financial service provider. In rural areas it takes less time on average for an individual to get to a mobile money agent than to a bank branch or bank agent.

Samuel Kimani, Chief Executive Officer, Jamii Bora Bank commented: “Our main focus is on leveraging technology to enable our customers and all our stakeholders to have access to a truly robust financial service that will enhance and transform their lifestyles anywhere, anytime and enable them to do anything. We expect that this will significantly reduce the cost of access to financial services and enable us to bring relevant financial services to Kenya and the rest of the region.”

AppLab Money Kenya is funded by MasterCard and philanthropists Craig and Susan McCaw through the “Craig and Susan McCaw Technology for Development Challenge.” The McCaw challenge grant supports initiatives that help to push the frontiers of mobile technology in developing the next generation of financial products designed to help the poor. 

AppLab Money Kenya is part of an innovative approach that focuses on developing, testing and scaling the next generation of breakthrough products and services tailored to meet the financial needs of the poor. This involves combining technology-enabled innovation derived by engaging designers, researchers and commercial analysts to help various partners understand the needs of the poor, enabling the development of relevant, scalable solutions. Grameen Foundation operates a similar initiative in Uganda and plans to extend the AppLab Money model to other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

About MasterCard
MasterCard (NYSE: MA),, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, @MasterCardMEA, join the discussion on the Cashless Pioneers Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau

About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation is a global nonprofit organization that helps the world’s poorest people achieve their full potential by providing access to essential financial services and information on health and agriculture that can transform their lives. Founded in 1997, it delivers solutions that respond to the needs of the poor, as well as tools that help poverty-focused organizations become more effective. It focuses on initiatives that can achieve widespread impact and uses an open-source approach that makes it easy for other organizations to adopt them broadly. Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and the Grameen family of companies, is an inaugural member of its Board of Directors, and now serves as director emeritus. Grameen Foundation is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in the U.S., Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @GrameenFdn.

About Jamii Bora Bank
Jamii Bora is Kenya’s fastest growing Bank, with a dedicated customer base of over 300,000 and 34 outlets countrywide, of which 22 are already CBK approved branches. Since December 2010, the Bank’s core capital has almost tripled to stand at Sh. 1.4 billion, following the investment of Asterisk Holdings, a strategic investor who injected Sh. 320 million in December 2011 and issuance of rights issue of Kshs 216 million. In 2012, the shareholders  approved a rights issue that saw a further Kes 500 million capital injected bringing the core capital to Sh. 1.4 billion and positioning the Bank for sustained growth. In a move to diversify funding and stabilise its balance sheet the Bank announced a Corporate Bond offer via private placement of Sh 1 billion 5-year tenure bond, priced at 13.3% per annum. The bond was oversubscribed by 2%. This enabled the Bank to diversify its funding base as well as to finance its continued penetration into the micro enterprise & housing sector and the underserved SME market with new products and services. 

For media inquiries contact
Louise Wanjohi                            
Hill+Knowlton Strategies                     
louise.wanjohi [at]                  

Carolyne Munene    
Jamii Bora Bank    
carol.munene [at] 

Liselle Yorke
Grameen Foundation
lyorke [at]