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Creative Associates Boosts Financial Inclusion in North with Mobile Phones

Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele

Creative Associates International, an organisation that provides outstanding, on-the-ground development services and partnerships to deliver sustainable solutions to global challenges has sought to find a local financial technology solution that leveraged the mobile phone to bridge the access in Northern Nigeria.

As part of the USAID-funded Northern Education Initiative Plus (NEI), Creative Associates International and its partners are strengthening the ability of Bauchi and Sokoto states to provide greater access to basic education.

The initiative targets those affected by conflict and to improve reading outcomes for school-aged children and youth.

The closest banks to some Northerners in the rural areas are miles away and may take several hours to complete the round trip.

To support them, the project pays Learning Facilitators a stipend of N10,000 per month (approximately $27).

Due to the lack of formal banking institutions, the Learning Facilitators finds it hard to access financial services and get paid for their work. It’s a challenge facing an innovative education project in two Nigerian states.

Through its non-formal learning centres, NEI Plus provides learning opportunities to children and youth who are not able to attend the formal school system. They are taught by Learning Facilitators, 87 per cent of whom live in rural areas.

To ensure payments make it to these financially underserved educators facing this access gap of traditional banking channels, Creative is leveraging mobile phones.

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Mobile phone ownership in Nigeria is relatively high (83 per cent according to the World Bank), giving NEI Plus the option to build upon the already established mobile money channels. The NEI Plus collaborated with the company eTranzact to provide a customized, tailored payment solution.

As they were financially underserved, the majority of Learning Facilitators had never used mobile money before. To ensure sufficient uptake of the product for the project use case and beyond, the NEI Plus designed and deployed mobile money training for the educators.

The training included sections relevant to their uses: digital financial literacy, mobile money uses, mobile savings, and mobile value-added services.

A recent survey revealed that Learning Facilitators enjoy receiving their stipends via mobile money.