2013 Visa Innovation Grants Support Innovations in Agriculture, Health & Emergency Relief

Author: Shelley Spencer, Program Director, NetHope Payment Innovations | October 28, 2014

Each year, the development community, relief organizations and governments make billions of dollars in cash payments to poor households through benefit stipends, emergency relief payments and other development initiatives. In the last decade the international community has begun to make a significant transition away from the distribution of in-kind goods toward cash transfers. Development organizations have begun to embrace digital payments, not only in emergency relief but also in the areas of health, education, food security, poverty alleviation and as means to promote financial inclusion. While these efforts hold great promise, much remains to be done. The Visa Innovation Grants are one small way of supporting organizations seeking to realize that promise.

Committed to advancing financial inclusion, Visa has forged a number of strategic partnerships with NGOs to improve lives and economies around the world. In line with its support for the NGO sector, Visa launched the Visa Innovation Grants program in 2013. Delivered in partnership with NetHope, five grants of $100,000 each were awarded to leading non-profit humanitarian and development organizations to support the innovation use and adoption of electronic transfers and/or payments within programs and organizations.

The group of five winning 2013 grantee organizations includes Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), Freedom from Hunger, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Mercy Corps, and Pathfinder International, with projects relating to agricultural finance, emergency relief and health. By helping these organizations transition to e-payments, the Visa Innovation Grants have fostered financial inclusion, empowering the communities it serves as well as strengthening the organizations’ abilities to realize their respective missions.

The following report tells the stories of the five grantee recipients, their work, and the advances made possible by the grant funding towards the wide adoption of electronic payments (e-payments) and increased use of financial services.

In Ghana, supporting ASI in bringing formal financial services to rice farmers through the extension of branchless banking.

In rural Ecuador, helping Freedom from Hunger improve access to health services with the integration of e-payments through local microfinance institutions.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, helping IFRC design and test a rapidly implementable and scalable electronic cash transfer system with Red Cross National Societies to respond to emergencies.

In Indonesia, funding Mercy Corps’ initiative to provide smallholder farmers with access to mobile lending and payment products to improve their productivity and increase incomes.

In Kenya, helping Pathfinder International to introduce a mobile money-based payroll system with incentives for community health workers. 

View the 2013 Visa Innovation Grants report > 

The following video tells the story of Mercy Corps' AgriPay project:

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