A collaborative initiative between Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and Zeepay Ghana Limited (Zeepay), a Digital Financial Services Company, has launched the Digital for Inclusion (D4I) program. D4I was developed to improve the digital economy through interconnection. This partnership was developed with the goal of expanding Ghana’s digital economy, expanding financial inclusion and creating economic opportunities for historically underserved and financially excluded populations throughout the country. The initiative will focus on Smallholder Cocoa Communities and the Zongo Communities.
In his statement, the Chief Executive of GIFEC, Hon. Kofi Asante, said,
“GIFEC is delighted to be part of this project and to anchor such a laudable project with a local startup – Zeepay.” He further stated, “the key attribute of this project is that it would make available free data for learning, bring financial services to the communities, and empower agents/entrepreneurs to sell fast moving consumables while improving the knowledge base of the local economy through financial literacy programmes. We believe this is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals 1-7 and evidence of Government of Ghana’s commitment to sustainable development.”
In the coming years, D4I aims to expand and improve the inclusive aspect of the local economies it operates in and to develop the digital economy and entrepreneurial programs throughout the country. D4I will leverage digital (to make these often-marginalized communities connected to data), entrepreneurial support and training and access to Financial services:- Domestic transfers, Remittances, Micro Lending, and Micro Insurance.
The D4I entrepreneurs would generate direct employment for an estimated 2000 people and indirect employment for approximately 4000 people over the next two (2) years. The pilot phase would run for 9 months and immediately impact over 200 districts nationwide. The objective of the project is to open the identified economies and deepen inclusion. This initiative aims at including 60 percent of Women and 10 percent of Disabled persons within the targeted areas. D4I is one of the most important projects as it serves as a catalyst for growth at the grass root level to most effectively impact and serve the local economy.
Hermann Messan, Digital Finance Specialist for the MicroLead program at UNCDF, added
“this project is critical to the Government of Ghana as it is testament of its efforts to improve digital inclusion, generate micro employment and improve financial access. At UNCDF, we see this project as a catalytic one which can impact other sectors of the economy and support the SDG achievement; it is unique in the sense that it targets employment, vulnerable women and disabled people.”
Andrew Takyi-Appiah, the co-founder of Zeepay, mentioned that he is excited to see D4I launched and commends the Government of Ghana under the leadership of President Akuffo Addo for the commitment they have put into developing the local economy as well as recognizing start-ups as a key driver for national development.
He commented, “we are delighted to bring our award-winning technology to this project to make it a success and open up mobile financial services to Smallholder Cocoa Communities and Zongo Communities nationwide. In conjunction with our banking partner − Bank of Africa, and Glico Micro, we are excited to make this project a reality and bring micro lending, remittances, micro insurance and payment services to these communities in an effort to deepen the digital economy from an inclusive approach.”
Kosi Yankey, the Executive Director of NBSSI stated that D4I is at the core of NBSSI objectives as it seeks to drive economic inclusion initiatives targeted at disadvantaged populations to strengthen grassroots business development.
She continued, “This is one of many business initiatives NBSSI will be driving in its role to support and transform small scale businesses in the country. ” She further stressed that “the active and productive small scale businesses are the backbone of any thriving economy and it is therefore imperative for the country and NBSSI to receive more of such collaborative support to enable it successfully deliver its mandate.”
The project will provide point-of-sale devices to these cocoa and zongo communities, to help them be financially literate, and grow their knowledge and use of digital financial tools. Through this, more Mobile Money/ Zeepay Agents will be trained to provide services to their folk while making money on the services provided. As the project progresses, services revolving around schools, healthcare, taxes, and trading will be able to effectively take advantage of the financial tools already provided, to create a cash-lite economy.
Also published on Medium.