Understanding the M-ASCA Model
M-ASCA is an indiscriminate mobile phone based accumulating savings and credit association (ASCA) that allows members to borrow money up to three times their savings after one month with the aim of bringing community members together in order to improve their livelihoods.
The organization targets every adult Kenyan irrespective of their background (youths, women, small scale business people, the unemployed, private institutions etc.) who may not hold any collateral and are interested in saving in order to access capital for investment, business startups, old age savings or any other viable need.
The segment targeted is excluded from formal financial services and henceforth exposed to the informal financial sector characterized by exorbitant interest rates for credit, poor management and theft of group funds particularly in ROSCAs and ASCAs. As a self help association, members will be able to access credit at 1% interest per month, a rate which is only a preserve of those with regular income and can consistently meet the terms and conditions set by SACCOs.
M-ASCA mobile money enables the association to serve its members in the entire country, breaking infrastructural and other logistical barriers as well as geographical limitations, and by minimizing the costs of operations such as cutting down on agents and facilities being set up all over the country. This does away with over reliance on agents and enables members to directly access association services via their phones. The services are all inclusive from self registration to loan application, saving money, request for guarantors, guaranteeing members, checking balances, statements and loan repayments among others. The model is deliberately designed to eliminate wasting crucial time for members in meetings at the expense of working choosing to empower them to take charge of the management of their financial affairs, The model also avoids tying members to a circle of friends in the name of guarantors. Anyone anywhere can be an M-ASCA member and a guarantor can be anyone in any part of the country. It encourages people to know each other and socialize from wherever they are; becoming a one united Country: the Kenyan Virtual community.
The model is in cognizance of the fact that convenience is critical in nurturing the saving culture of lesser off segments. Though there is a viable economic ecosystem at the base of the pyramid, saving is one among many competing needs, hence the need to avail opportunities for saving close to sources of income and as conveniently as possible considering that profitability of activities they engage in more often than not is determined by man hours, these activities are occasionally undertaken in marginalized areas devoid of any formal financial services meaning that the only models that can survive such conditions are resource efficient models.
Supported by the m-pesa network of outlets (with over 80,000 agents across the country), the design puts into consideration the fact that people in the informal sector may not have regular incomes but access some money anyway, it is necessary to tap this resource at the earliest opportunity. The M-ASCA model allows members to save any amount; as little as Ksh 50, which the system can accept anytime and as many times as one wishes in a day. It also allows them to repay loan installments bit by bit anytime within the month as long as by the end of the month the whole installment has been paid. Key considerations in the design are : affordability, accessibility, resource efficiency, functionality before form, enabling use to the deskilled and availability.
This is made possible by the USSD based platform which is accessible through all phones and is not internet dependent. The design is considerate of the heterogeneous demographics and hence simplified to make it easy to use, enabling members to follow a step by step procedure that allows them to navigate services offered by the association.
M-ASCAs aim is to dignify the Base of the Pyramid populations through a credit and loan association that unleashes the potential of members through their active participation, freedom associated with convenience and transparency occasioned by real-time update of transactions; hence the slogan: Financial Inclusion with Dignity.
Open to all Kenyans of adult age, anytime anywhere mobile based transactions, Paperless association, no meetings, no groups of 10 -15, no fines for late coming to meetings, no absenteeism, can submit any amount even as little as Kshs 50, friendly guarantor system , creates a Kenyan virtual community, registration fee of Kshs 200, Interest of 1% per month.
Security of the Money
System based Real-time update of transactions, registered under the Ministry Gender, Children and Social Development and Ministry auditors and officials working with the organization, and savings and credit registered under the sacco movement in Kenya.
M-ASCA is a project of Mama Promotions Women Group registered as a community based organization that uses the M-ASCA mobile money platform for all its operations. The M-ASCA model was innovated and actualized by its founder Dr. Martina Mutheu Mulwa. Day to day activities are overseen by members of Mama Promotions women group. The association has professionals in charge of all operational areas. The system is maintained by Tangazoletu Ltd.