In Haiti, Mobile Money Transfers Fund New Homes, With Help from Digicel

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - March 2, 2012

Above: construction in Haiti (UNDP Photo)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

In Haiti, while two-thirds of the population has access to mobile phones, just 10 percent have bank accounts.

A new UNDP initiative looks to use mobile money transfer technology to address that problem, and build homes in the process.

More than 2,000 mobile money transfers of $500 each are planned in the next three months to 1,000 low-income families to help them buy construction materials to build new homes, the UNDP announced.

The programme is reportedly the first-ever mobile money transfer system in support of post-disaster housing reconstruction.

The initiative, which was commissioned by the UNDP and developed by Digicel, helps boost financial inclusion in Haiti.

The mobile transfers, along with mobile phone vouchers, mean recipients can access a mobile phone checking account and then use those funds to buy things like cement, iron and wood.

“Mobile phone vouchers create additional security and convenience here in Haiti, especially for women who might feel more vulnerable when carrying large sums of money,” said Jessica Faieta, senior UNDP Country Director for Haiti. “With safer housing conditions, this initiative will also encourage the permanent return of camp residents to their neighbourhoods and repaired homes.”

According to the UNDP, 4,000 families have registered to take part in the project, which could benefit up to 12,000 people.

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