Map of financial services becomes weapon in battle to end poverty in Africa

Financial Inclusion

Map of financial services becomes weapon in battle to end poverty in Africa

This section of Kampala, Uganda shows what financial services are available to the 759 residents within the selected 1km radius. Map image: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A new interactive map helps organizations concentrate their fight against poverty in Africa.

The easy-to-use map, created by the Gates Foundation, pinpoints financial service access points and displays population data for Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania. Anti-poverty groups can now evaluate their progress and identify areas of need while simultaneously identifying where people live and their poverty level.

Many rural poor live far from a bank and end up completing transactions with cash. Cash carries higher risks--it can be stolen, mishandled, and is often difficult to access. Utility companies and service providers often have trouble servicing cash-only individuals. Inexpensive and reliable access to digital financial services lifts one restricting effect of poverty. Access to digital solutions like mobile money agents or mobile money kiosks allows people to keep their money safe, easily buy food or pay bills without cash or brick-and-mortar banks.

Bringing digital financial services to impoverished areas is the first step toward giving the poor the same opportunities as people who already have access to digital banking. The Gates Foundation’s map also shows where financial access points are lacking so financial service companies can use the map to set up an agent or mobile money kiosk to gain new customers.

“As poor people seek to access modern financial services, one of the greatest barriers to doing so is the lack of physical infrastructure linking them to digital platforms,” according to a Gates Foundation report. “The build-out of bank branches, agents, and other ‘cash in/out’ points is a critical first step in giving poor people a bridge from cash to the digital domain.

“Solving the access barrier is a key priority before the adoption and the usage of financial services can occur to impact poor people’s lives.”

Check out the interactive map here.

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