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Grameen Community Agents doing digital financial transaction

1.6 billion
people don’t have access to financial services.
70% of them
are women.

Grameen Foundation uses data analysis to understand people who live in poverty, in detail, as well as the entire eco-system that surrounds them and keeps them poor. What we know is that tools like Mobile Money and Digital Farming can turn around their lives by giving them access to the formal market system. But people, not data and technology, are the most important way Grameen Foundation brings innovation to the fight against poverty.

Community Agents are what make the Grameen Foundation Model so uniquely effective. Because no matter how well designed a mobile solution is, it can't work if people don't use it. Extremely poor populations don’t have the Internet, many cannot read. And none of us wants to use technology that we don’t trust or understand. That is why our approach uses trained, digitally-enabled members of the community to support and provide wireless connectivity for people living in remote, rural areas. A familiar face, financial service agents offer reassurance and trust, often with a paper receipt, when it seems impossible that money could travel invisibly through the air. Farm development plan agents share more than digital farming plans, they share their expertise and experience as agronomists.

Grameen Foundation collaborates with local partners who recruit, train, equip and manage Community Agent networks. From banks to microfinance institutions to mobile phone networks to agribusiness, we work to create a comprehensive eco-system of support from the financial services industry. Our local partnerships are important in ensuring cultural relevance, efficiency, and sustainability. Leveraging existing infrastructure and improving it to work better for marginalized populations is not only better for the poor, but it is also better for businesses too. Which makes it sustainable.

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The Grameen Foundation Model to fight poverty: technology with a human face.

Good for women. Good for the family farm. Good for everyone.

Diagram Grameen Community Agents connecting the poor to Mobile Money and Digital Farming tools Diagram of how Grameen Community Agents connect the poor to Mobile Money and Digital Farming tools
Female entrepreneurship is alive and well in refugee camps.
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Grameen Mobile Money: banking for the unbanked

Grameen Mittra helping client

Trained Community Agents connect poor women to digital financial products and services such as digital payments from employers, government transfers, savings accounts, affordable loans, person-to-person transfers, and bill payments.

The vast majority of the 1.6 billion people remaining in extreme poverty live in rural, financially underserved areas far from bank branches and ATMs. Here, the gap in access to financial services is largest for women; over 70% of those lacking access to formal financial markets are women. Financial inclusion through digital technology changes the equation. When a woman doesn’t need to walk all day to collect her paycheck or hand over her earnings to her husband, she gains time and financial means to lift herself and her children up.

Grameen Foundation partners with local networks to bring financial services directly to underserved clients. The agents are mostly women, and so are their clients. Our digital tools—which often use interactive voice response, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence—train agents in their local languages regardless of their level of literacy. Because basic-feature cell phones are now common in the developing world, more and more women can now access financial services right where they live.

Agents trained
since 2016

Grameen Digital Farming: inclusion for smallholder farmers

Selasse Gidiglo - Grameen Community Agent

Around the world, 450 million households depend on agriculture as their primary economic activity. But these smallholder farmers are plagued by low productivity and low incomes. They are locked out of higher-paying markets because they lack access to farm inputs such as good seeds and fertilizers, training and microfinance. Barely six percent of rural adults in developing countries have bank accounts.

Community Agents help stabilize and turn around poor farmers with access to digital tools and information that give them many of the same advantages that formal agriculture enjoys. They start digitally collecting, analyzing and assessing data and information, creating a detailed profile of each individual smallholder farmer and their family, their needs, business opportunities, and risks. Using the hyper-local footprint of each farm, agents work with farmers to develop a seven-year development plan and goals, improve their farming methods, maximize their return on investment, and bolster their ability to repay loans. See Digital Farming in action, and/or download the report.

The best way to fight poverty is together.
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Real reasons for real optimism.

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