Gates Foundation and U.S. Government Give $2.5 Million Prize for Transforming Banking Sector in Haiti

By Bill Melinda Gates Foundation U.s. Agency For International Development, PRNE
Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mobile operator Digicel becomes first recipient of mobile money fund in Haiti

SEATTLE and PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, January 10, 2011 - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. government, through the
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced today that
Haitian mobile operator Digicel won a $2.5 million award from the Haiti
Mobile Money Initiative (HMMI). Digicel was recognized for being the first to
launch a mobile money service in Haiti, Tcho Tcho Mobile, that meets the
competition's stringent criteria. This award, presented to Digicel and its
partner Scotia Bank at a U.S. Embassy event in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is the
first from HMMI, a $10 million incentive fund to jumpstart the introduction
of mobile money for the Haitian people.

The devastating earthquake in January 2010 destroyed one-third of Haiti's
bank branches, further limiting access to financial systems that served only
10 percent of Haiti's population before the earthquake. The HMMI, a
partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID, was
established to help launch mobile money services in Haiti and enable Haitians
to send, receive and store money using their mobile phones. It also lays the
foundation for advanced banking services that could help millions of Haitians
lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

Digicel's mobile money service enables customers to use their mobile
phones to make deposits and withdrawals at retail outlets, and transfer money
between Tcho Tcho accounts. In addition to its current services, other mobile
banking services will eventually include bill payments, payment for
government services and international remittance transfers.

"The U.S. government made significant achievements in the immediate
aftermath of the earthquake, and continues to implement its long-term
assistance to help the Haitian people build back better," said U.S.
Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth H. Merten. "The role of innovative companies like
Digicel will be critical to ensuring the sustainability of our investments

The effectiveness of mobile money offerings like Tcho Tcho Mobile has
been demonstrated by a similar service, M-PESA, in Kenya. Just three years
after its launch, M-PESA has more than 13 million customers, is used by more
than 70 percent of Kenya's households, and does more transfers per year
domestically than the money transfer company Western Union does globally.
Research shows that Kenyan households who have access to M-PESA are better
able to manage negative income shocks such as job loss, harvest or business.

"As we have seen in other places around the world, mobile money can
unlock the economic potential for millions of people," said Sylvia Mathews
, president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation. "Making mobile money services available to the poorest
families in the developing world can be a first step to introducing a broader
range of financial services, including savings accounts, helping people build
financial security and productive lives."

This is the first award given by HMMI. The second operator to launch a
mobile money service within 12 months will receive $1.5 million. Another $6
will be awarded as the first 5 million transactions take place,
divided accordingly among those that contributed to the total number of

"The launch of mobile money is an encouraging achievement," said USAID
Haiti Mission Director Carleene Dei. "The additional $6 million in scaling
awards will help mobile money become sustainable in Haiti."

HMMI is funded by $10 million in awards plus additional funds for related
activities from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $5 million in
technical and management assistance from USAID. The Haiti Integrated Finance
for Value Chains and Enterprise (HIFIVE), a USAID-funded project, manages
HMMI. HIFIVE also offers technical and management assistance to improve
financial access for the underserved.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In
developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them
the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the
United States
, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the
fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in
school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO
Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill
and Melinda Gates
and Warren Buffett. Learn more at or join the conversation on Facebook
( and Twitter

U.S. Agency for International Development

Through the U.S. Agency for International Development, the American
people have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for
nearly 50 years. For more information about USAID's programs, please visit:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, media at, +1-206-709-3400; or U.S. Agency for International Development, piechowskije at, +1 (509) 22 29 8837

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