PRO-POOR INNOVATION CHALLENGE AWARD FOR SKS SMART CARD PROJECT
Putting Technology to Work for Poverty Alleviation
Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP) selected SKS
for the prestigious Pro-Poor Innovation Challenge Award for
SKS' initiative to introduce Smart Cards and Hand-Held
Computers at the village level. SKS was one of four
organizations in the world to receive the award, which is in
the amount of US $50,000.
The Smart Card Project will revolutionize microfinance by
overcoming a major problem for microfinance institutions (MFIs)-the
high cost of delivering financial services to the doorstep of
the poor. It will do so by using Smart Cards to reduce the
time of weekly village meetings, thereby significantly
increasing the efficiency of field staff, lowering costs of
delivery, and enabling MFIs that target the poor to more
quickly reach financial viability.
All MFIs face the problem of the high cost of delivery, but
the problem is especially acute for MFIs that target the
poorest of the poor because such MFIs typically work in
remote, sparsely-populated regions where roads are not well
developed. Therefore travel costs become prohibitive.
Moreover, given the severe poverty of their clients, such MFIs
typically have lower average loan portfolios, thus it takes
longer to reach financial sustainability. Smart Cards will
solve that problem.