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Executing human centred design research into smartphone-enabled digital financial services for women


The majority of the informal female traders in Kenya do not have access to smartphones and internet-enabled devices that can open multiple opportunities for digital financial services (DFS) and related services in areas such as financial literacy and business skills training.

M-KOPA will use the USD 300,000 ADFI-awarded funding for research to assess barriers to and opportunities for women’s access to digital financial service and financial literacy programmes via its credit-secured, pay-as-you-go smartphones and use the research insights to design a financial services app that is relevant to small-scale women traders.

The research study, involving 250 women and 250 men in Kenya’s Kisumu, Eldoret and Machakos counties, will benefit women with no or limited access to financial services who run small informal businesses. Once developed, the mobile app will be used to pilot small loans to women traders.


Understand the DFS needs of women that can be addressed via PAYG smartphones

  • Identify and form a representative sample of 250 men and 250 women, conduct initial interviews to provide baseline data for future comparison between how men and women access DFS.
  • Sample a group of 100 women (identified from the 250) to participate in detailed human centred design research on how women access DFS services on smartphones and identify their user preferences.
  • Create persona archetypes to gain deeper insights (women in different contexts such as agriculture, trade, rural, urban, single headed households etc.).
  • Use this information to develop a minimum viable product, that is a product that can be tested for viability and profitability among population sample.

Design a minimum viable product mobile app and pilot small loans with women:

  • Design the prototype application, test wireframe designs on user-friendliness, develop the MVP and test with users.
  • Pilot launch of the application to the sample of women with continuous testing and improvements.
  • Test the use and usability of the app via PAYG phones with a customer trial.
  • Identified factors that influence women’s uptake and utility of mobile services and DFS via smartphone asset financing which are categorised by personas or needs assessment
  • More women step onto PAYG financial inclusion pathway
  • Defined user requirements to build basic app architecture
  • More women adopting relevant digital financial services and more women involved in the design and development process
  • Design of a replicable, innovative human centred design framework for digital financial services
  • Enabling women to be champions of their own needs, participate in design of new products and influence communities on benefits of digital financial solutions

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Digital credit, micro retail & MSMEs

ADFI Focus Areas

Digital Credit (micro-retail, MSMEs, SMEs)
Digital Products and Innovation
Gender Inclusivity

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