Technology and policy innovation bolsters Kenya’s economic stability

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    Rita Kimani and Peris Bosire, FarmDrive Founders

    On the lead-up to Fintech Summit slated on 29th – 30th May in Nairobi,  both technology and innovative ideas being unveiled by Kenyans continue to be celebrated globally following their contribution towards creation of sustainable economic stability in the country.

    Kenya according to The Atlas of Innovation for Economic Stability is emerging as a hot-spot of technology-enabled innovations that support a more inclusive economy. The Atlas, published today by international NGO FHI 360 with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, is the result of a global research and crowdsourcing effort, and features more than sixty innovations from around the world that help individuals, households, communities, and countries survive and prosper even in the face of economic volatility.

    The Rockefeller Foundation features Kenya as a global innovation “hot spot” and identifies four Kenyan innovations that create stable incomes and futures.

    Four Kenyan innovations are featured:

    • Sauti, a mobile technology to improve micro, small, and medium enterprises’ (MSMEs) access to legal services and regulatory compliance;
    • Twiga Foods and FarmDrive, two innovations that link farmers to urban markets and assess smallholder creditworthiness; and,
    • An app developed by Usalama Tech Group that helps users connect with emergency services, their families, and nearby users during crimes or accidents.

    The report finds that private entrepreneurs and businesses like these are playing a major role in enhancing economic stability – a role typically associated with governments – by providing powerful information products and financial services, often but not always via mobile phones. Citizen networks and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are also joining entrepreneurs, international donors, and government-business partnerships as important sources of innovation in these areas.

    Rockefeller Foundation 

     

    The report finds that private entrepreneurs and businesses like these are playing a major role in enhancing economic stability – a role typically associated with governments – by providing powerful information products and financial services, often but not always via mobile phones. Citizen networks and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are also joining entrepreneurs, international donors, and government-business partnerships as important sources of innovation in these areas.

    Other examples of innovations that are enhancing stability around the world include new technologies for digital payments; banking and insurance products; tools that provide better data to farmers via smartphones; workforce monitoring and wellness; pensions and benefits for workers with unstable incomes; technologies to promote public safety; and technologies that help marginalised women and ethnic minorities claim their legal rights to land and property. Many of these technologies build on the success of digital payment systems pioneered in Kenya, particularly Safaricom’s M-Pesa system.

    Two innovations deployed in Kenya but developed outside the country include the International Food Policy Research Institute’s risk-contingent credit program, an insurance product that provides small farmers with access to credit and drought insurance, and the Indian social enterprise SafetiPin, which developed a mobile app and online platform that uses crowdsourced data to make cities safer for women.

    Phil Psilos, FHI 360’s Asia-Pacific Technical Advisor for Economic Development & Innovation and the principal researcher for the report says, “Stability is critical to the long-term security of individuals and nations. Kenya’s entrepreneurs are leading the way, using technology innovation to tackle social and economic issues and ensure that smallholder famers and entrepreneurs can earn and maintain a steady income.”

    The innovations featured in the Atlas were chosen for their ability to help reduce the volatility and disruption in people’s lives caused by rapid technological change, allowing them to anticipate and prepare for future shocks and stresses. They serve as models of policy, program, and product solutions that improve livelihoods and promote inclusive growth that place economic stability at the center.

    The Atlas also presents profiles of innovators and suggests some conclusions and recommendations related to how global development partners can support and strengthen economic stability and the process of innovation, through new ideas and collaborations and stronger connections with emerging data sources, financial systems, and other technologies.

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