Kickstart,a global nonprofit is successfully operating an M-PESA powered layaway program in Kenya. The mobile based layaway program is the first of its kind in Sub Saharan Africa.
Kickstart creates human powered irrigation pumps that enables smallscale farmers to move from subsistence to commercial irrigated farming. One of their most popular pump is the MoneyMaker pump which is in high demand but lack of purchasing power and limited availability of microfinance services prevents many smallscale Kenyan farmers from buying the pumps.
The M-PESA layaway program provides an innovative new solution to this problem,enabling farmers to make M-PESA payments of any amount,of any frequency towards the purchase of the MoneyMaker irrigation pumps. The M-PESA layaway program enables smallscale farmers to make smaller payments via M-PESA on the irrigation pumps untill the purchase price is paid in full,rather than paying for the MoneyMaker pump in credit and adding interest to the cost. Kickstart ensures that the irrigation pumps,which cost $70-$100,are ready to pick up when the final payment is made.
How the M-PESA Layaway works
Kickstart has branded the mobile layaway service as "Tone kwa Tone Pata Pump" (Kiswahili for "Drop by Drop gets the Pump"). Upon registration, farmers make an initial deposit to Kickstart through M-PESA Pay Bill service
They make subsequent payments,at their convinience,to Kickstart's M-PESA business account. Once a farmer has paid in full, Kickstart sends sms notification to the dealer and farmer informing them the pump is ready for pick-up.
Farming is the most important economic sector in Kenya,although less than 8 percent of the land is used for crop and feed production,and less than than 20 percent is suitable for cultivation. Majority of poor Kenyans are smallscale farmers who practice rain-fed,subsistence farming. With rain patterns becoming unreliable,farmers are losing endless amounts of money in failed crops.
Kenya is currently experiencing the worst famine in sixty years. That coupled with escalating food prices and the difficult global economic conditions,has resulted into about 3. 5 million Kenyans facing imminent hunger and starvation. Kickstart's low cost irrigation pumps are giving hope to an otherwise desperate situation, a permanent solution that tackles the root of poverty, away for farmers to make money and provide for their families.
The biggest advantage of this layaway program compared to other microfinancing options available to poor farmers, is that it is designed to reach the poorest segment of Kenyan farmers; and it enables them to save towards a certain target, giving them the freedom,flexibility,and security of making payments whenever,wherever they want,interest-free using their mobile phones via M-PESA.