Bringing financial inclusion to the Horn of Africa
Monday, November 4, 2013
Somaliland is an African region balancing on a knife’s edge. Separated from Somalia, it’s a stronghold for terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab and for high-seas pirates. With so much crime and political instability to contend with, Somaliland is perhaps the last place on earth you would expect to find the bleeding edge of the world’s mobile money revolution. But this is exactly where local wireless provider Telesom launched Zaad, an informal banking system that is slicker and easier to use than anything available to the banking public in North America or Europe.
It’s an especially remarkable feat considering that 70% of the region’s 3.5 million inhabitants are illiterate, and virtually 100% are without a bank account or ATM card.
“Since Somaliland lacks formal financial institutions, bringing financial inclusion and contributing to the economic well-being of our society was the primary aim,” says Abdirahman Adan Shire, services manager for Zaad at Telesom’s headquarter in Hargeisa, the region’s capital situated in the deserts of northwestern Somalia.