We first began working in Uganda in 2002, when we partnered with telecommunications operators and microfinance institutions to establish the first Village Phone program outside of Bangladesh. The initiative gave poor, rural communities access to affordable phone service and created mobile-based businesses.
That experience led to the creation of our Community Knowledge Worker program in 2009-2015. Its networks of peer advisors used mobile technology to advise farmers on increasing their output and connecting to markets. This program laid the foundation for all of our global digital initiatives in agriculture.
In Uganda, our work has tackled two key challenges for smallholder farmers: a lack of information on best agricultural practices, and limited access to finance. In 2009, the government’s National Agricultural Advisory Services relied on just 2,000 field agents to engage and train 3 million rural farming households. Furthermore, more than 75 percent of smallholder farmers in Uganda are “unbanked,” having extremely limited access to savings accounts, loans or other financial services.
Our work in Uganda:
- Has supported informal village savings and loan groups through technology that digitizes group savings accounts using mobile phones, increasing the ease, security and transparency of saving
- Digitized major Ugandan financial institutions to extend their reach to the rural poor, engaging more than 170,000 rural customers.