Mrs. Muzira, an Eco cash agent in Ward 11, in Gweru rural heard about WFP Seasonal Targeted Assistance (STA) program at a community meeting that the Councilor and ADRA conducted. She knew that she would not qualify as a beneficiary because she was a well established business woman in her community and there were more needy people than her. Her interest grew when she heard that ADRA would be piloting mobile phone transactions and that beneficiaries would receive money through Ecocash. For her this meant business.
ADRA staff visited her to explain the conditions among them that she was not allowed to force anyone to buy anything other than what they desired to buy. It was explained to her that the initiative was to improve food security of the beneficiaries.
She looked for resources, including starting small businesses like cooking food to sell at her shop so that she could have enough capital to cater for the 418 households (2089 beneficiaries) that were registered in her ward to receive assistance through Ecocash. With another Ecocash agent at the center, she was determined to get the big part of the business.
Implementation of the project started and she started servicing 80% more people. Her business grew beyond imagination because each transaction that she conducted, Ecocash paid her a commission. Not only were people cashing their money, they were also buying mealie meal – “the 10kg bag of mealie was the most fast selling commodity” she says while smiling.
When asked, what had changed in her life as a result of the implementation of STA and inclusion of the mobile phone transaction, her response was “come and see what I have done with the profit”. Mrs. Muzira took us to the back of the shop where she is constructing a nine-room guest house, and a restaurant. She had four blair toilets at the back of the shop that had since been refurbished to be flashed toilets. She has employed a builder and three assistants to assist with the work of constructing who testified to us that they were so happy to be employed. Businesswise, things have changed. Because of the volumes that she was transacting, the wholesalers who she deals with are willing to give her items on credit and also she has stocked her shop making it easy for community members to access all their basic items within the community a situation that is saving them from transport costs to the nearest town of Gweru. Her food business is also growing; the ADRA team visiting for this feature had lunch at her shop.
Mrs. Muzira is just but one of the Ecocash agents in Gweru rural who benefited through the use of Ecocash as a mode of distribution of cash for cereal. The objective of piloting Ecocash with Econet wireless was to compare the payment modalities that were being used by ADRA Zimbabwe in its WFP funded programs. The project would assess among others efficiency, effectiveness of each modality. The various modalities that ADRA has used include electronic vouchers, use of Cash in Transit companies and food. Generally Ecocash was perceived as convenient and less risky by beneficiaries. Story by Pansi Katenga