July 28, 2013 (Kabul, Afghanistan) – Roshan, Afghanistan’s leading total communications provider, today announced a partnership with the not for profit organization, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), to disburse shelter payments through M-Paisa. In recent years, many humanitarian and disaster relief organizations have transitioned from cash and voucher to digital payments as an operational model, not only to ensure transparency but also as a tool in reducing costs related to administration, logistics and transportation common in growing emerging economies. With M-Paisa—Afghanistan’s first mobile money solution, NRC will provide internally displaced persons and returning Afghan refugees with money, paid every two weeks in five installments, to build housing for themselves on land also given by NRC.
M-Paisa’s six-month pilot project will see NRC beneficiaries in Kabul, Parwan and Nangarhar receive the payments securely and directly to their mobile phones. There will be a positive trickle-down effect in these local communities as the disbursements will be used to contract local developers and community organizations or to hire builders to construct durable refuge that meets quality control standards set by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of Afghanistan.
“Roshan has always committed to being a different kind of company. Over the last ten years, we have blended for-profit and non-profit business models by making high-impact mobile products and services such as M-Paisa, which are also accessible to economically disadvantaged customers. Through our work with the Norwegian Refugee Council, we can address the immediate needs of those displaced and vulnerable to improve their well-being with mobile technology, as we contribute to the social and economic development of Afghanistan with long-term solutions,” Karim Khoja, Chief Executive Officer, Roshan, said.
“The Norwegian Refugee Council is a displacement organization and as such strives to work in difficult contexts with limited access in order to reach the right vulnerable beneficiaries. Thus, partnering with Roshan and piloting the use of M-Paisa, which the organization perceives as an innovation solution to money dispersement, will see NRC be able to transfer cash to target beneficiaries at scale and speed and improve access to people in remote locations in the process. The agency would want to see the supported families continue to use the technology for transactions outside and beyond the life of the project as they access remittances and other transfers for other purposes,” Habibullah Mujadadi, Deputy Program Manager, Norwegian Refugee Council, said.
With over 1.2 million registered users and over $4 million in salary payments transferred each month, M-Paisa plays a vital role in Afghanistan’s financial infrastructure. Since M-Paisa’s launch to the mass market in 2008, it has expanded from salary payments to the Afghan National Police, to international money transfers via Western Union, merchant payments such as at Metro Supermarket, bill payments including Herat Cable Network, and humanitarian payments from NRC and the Department for International Development, to aid the needs of drought-stricken Afghan households with cash transfer needs.
Roshan (Telecom Development Company Afghanistan Ltd) is Afghanistan's leading total communications provider with nearly six million active subscribers and a network that covers over 230 cities and towns in all of the country's 34 provinces.
Roshan is a true Afghanistan success story, serving as a catalyst for economic growth and actively contributing to the country’s long-term development. Since its inception nine years ago, Roshan has invested over $550 million in Afghanistan and is the country’s single largest investor and taxpayer, contributing approximately five percent of the Afghan government's overall domestic revenue. Roshan directly employs more than 1,200 people, 20 percent of whom are women, and provides indirect employment to more than 30,000 people.
Roshan is deeply committed to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), is a major shareholder of Roshan and promotes private initiatives and building economically sound enterprises in the developing world. Also owned in part by Monaco Telecom International (MTI) and TeliaSonera, Roshan brings international expertise to the country and is committed to the highest standards of network quality and coverage for the people of Afghanistan.
To learn more about Roshan visit www.roshan.af or http://www.facebook.com/RoshanConnects.
Introduced by Roshan in 2008 in partnership with Vodafone, M-Paisa is Afghanistan’s first mobile money transfer service, providing service to 97 percent of the unbanked population in the country. M-Paisa offers safe, secure and fast access to a range of financial services including receipt and payment of microfinance loans, peer-to-peer fund transfer, salary disbursement, purchase of airtime and bill payments. The service facilitates the transfer of funds using a mobile phone through Short Message Service (SMS) and an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. The IVR based menu is available to customers in Dari, Pashto and English, an important feature in Afghanistan where 70 percent of the population is illiterate. M-Paisa relies on Roshan’s robust mobile network which spans across 230 cities and towns in all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. This allows for the extension of financial services to the mass unbanked population.
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