THE WORLD BANK PRO-POOR INNOVATION CHALLENGE AWARD FOR SKS
SMART CARD PROJECT
Putting Technology to Work for Poverty Alleviation
World Bank's 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.