A Different Spin on “Mobile Savings”

15 April 2011 at 07:00 4 comments

When I first arrived at TLM in January, I read their 2011 business plan and was thrilled to see that the MFI was planning to launch mobile savings by mid-year! Just as kids dream of sugar plums and gumdrops at Christmas, my mind flooded with images of cellphones chirping with loan repayment text messages and happy borrowers following up on their loans far away from any branch office. I was elated that I was placed at an MFI that was pioneering the way with mobile phone banking technology!

Mobile Money

Mobile Savings??

I proceeded to read the text under the “mobile savings” heading and quickly realized that (1) I have an active imagination and (2) TLM’s mobile savings was a different spin on words than what my mind had quickly conjured up. TLM’s mobile savings consisted of transportation vans not cellphones as the method of reaching clients in remote areas. Though my dreams of cellphones were quickly vanquished, I thought that the concept of making banking mobile through vans was a simple, yet an ingenious idea. It definitely is a solution for small MFIs that do not have the technology, funding, and/or staff to start up initiatives such as mobile phone banking.

TLM Mobile Van Sketch

TLM Mobile Van Sketch

TLM had developed this mobile savings plan with the help of the Ford Foundation to increase the access of financial services and other transformation initiatives in the remote provinces of West Timor. Initially, a specific emphasis will be placed on education and the introduction of savings products, though other services such as loan repayments will also be available.

To support this goal, a team from the TLM staff was selected and specifically trained to understand the needs of these unique clients. The vans that will be used for the initiative were custom made for TLM. Mock-up drawings were passed back and forth for weeks between the staff desks, with many people putting in suggestions for the vehicle’s design. After a few short weeks, there are now two new vans parked in front of the TLM main office, which everyone is extremely proud of.

TLM Mobile Training

Mobile Savings Team in Training

The first mobile savings deployment is planned for April 18th, 2011, and by the end of 2011 TLM hopes to accomplish the following:

•     Reach 3,200 village traders with financial education
•     Provide 2,500 senior high school students with financial education
•     Onboard 1,000 new savings clients
•     Provide over 500 existing clients with improved savings access
•     Provide up to 5,000 existing clients with improved loan repayment access

Final Touches on the Mobile Savings Van

Final Touches on the Mobile Savings Van

After reading the mobile savings transformation initiative at TLM, I am truly thrilled to see the project get off the ground in the upcoming months as well as its initial impact. It is great to see an MFI use this unique form of mobile savings to extend financial services to their most remote clients.

Lisa Skowron (KF14) is currently working with Kiva’s MFI partner, TLM Cooperative, in West Timor.  Check out TLM’s lending team to stay tuned to the latest news.

Previous posts from Lisa Skowron:
Hear that??? It’s Kupang Bemo Rap!
Huh, There’s a West Timor?
Video Blog: Trek to Kanaan Village

Entry filed under: Indonesia, KF14 (Kiva Fellows 14th Class), Tanaoba Lais Manekat (TLM). Tags: , , , , , .

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  • 1. Surat Dari Indonesia  |  12 September 2011 at 18:26

    […] Previous posts from Lisa Skowron: Huh, There’s a West Timor? Video Blog: Trek to Kanaan Village Hear that? It’s Kupang Bemo Rap!! A Different Spin on Mobile Savings  […]

  • […] Previous posts from Lisa Skowron: Huh, There’s a West Timor? Video Blog: Trek to Kanaan Village Hear that? It’s Kupang Bemo Rap!! A Different Spin on Mobile Savings  […]

  • […] A Different Spin on “Mobile Savings” Country: Indonesia / Fellow: Lisa Skowron (KF14) Lisa was thrilled when she learned her partner MFI was launching a mobile savings program but soon realized that the process involved vans not cell phones. At the end of the day, though, impact is not about cutting-edge technology, it’s about execution, and her MFI has big plans for “mobile” banking. […]

  • 4. Kieran Ball  |  16 April 2011 at 00:49

    Hi Lisa,
    I was at TLM for KF7, so happy to have your updates. Sounds like they’re doing great and I love the idea of mobile savings. Go TLM! Hope you’re enjoying Kupang, make sure to go to Roti island if you haven’t already been.

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