Could free fintech-enabled smartphones be coming to unbanked women in Africa? That’s the promise of a new strategic partnership that aims to help women to be able to save, invest, and access loans from the convenience of their own phones – even if they live miles away from a bank.
The companies involved are DreamStart Labs, a provider of digital banking technology for emerging markets, and KEIPhone, a provider of free smartphones for unconnected women. The two companies recently announced a strategic partnership to bring free fintech-enabled smartphones to women in Africa who, until now, may have been excluded from formal financial services
KEIPhone says the agreement changes the game for underserved women in Africa by providing them with high-quality smartphones at no cost. Through this partnership, every phone distributed by KEIPhone will be pre-installed with the DreamSave app from DreamStart Labs – a fintech app that makes it easy for unbanked people to save money, access loans and achieve financial goals.
The free fintech-enabled smartphones will be made possible through an innovative advertising-based revenue model. Women receiving the free phones will view ads with relevant content targeted specifically to their unique needs.
Key ad focus areas will include mobile money services to help female entrepreneurs improve their small businesses, agricultural innovations to help farming communities increase profits, and pay-as-you-go solar products to improve access to affordable clean energy.
The partnership will initially target 10,000 women in rural Uganda, with expansion to other African countries planned for later in the year. Distribution and training will be conducted in partnership with leading NGOs and international development partners.