Mombasa, Kenya - Foundation for Sustainable Development - Milango Financial Services
Based in Mombasa, Kenya, Milango Financial Services is a microfinance institution serving Kenyan citizens by offering accessible credit and various forms of small loans. Similar to many other microfinance institutions, Milango structures its programs by requiring clients to organize themselves into groups, which meet weekly and manage accounts together. Communication between clients in the same groups is essential, as their finances are strongly tied to those of their fellow group members. While not representative of all groups, many groups had some difficulties with this communication – all members owned mobile phones (a Milango requirement) but calling, texting, or seeking out all members could be a timely and cost-inefficient process. My project involved attempting to optimize the communication process, through training Milango staff to use Twitter and to train client groups to create and use Twitter accounts for rapid, cost efficient communication with their groups. A side project involved trying to improve the internal communication between staff members through the same mechanism. While it is too early to be sure of any long-term results, it appears that at least some groups and staff members are finding use of the system helpful, though encouraging adoption does seem to be a challenge.