Other shortlisted practices 2014

Pilot Initiative Of Financial Services

Perkins International utilized a comprehensive methodology that compared both rural and urban needs of individuals who are blind in Kenya. Important variables to the study included age, gender and income distribution, access to phones, phone accessibility, cost of phones, sources of phones and individual technical ability to use phones.

“This project, the first of its kind, is a significant contribution towards more inclusive financial systems …”

Martin KIETI
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:: Pilot Initiative Of Financial Services
Organisation:Perkins International
of origin
USA/ Jamaica
Beneficiaries targeted Blind and partially sighted persons
Approach/ model/ solution:Research in Kenya, addresses inability of blind and partially sighted users of mobile phone-based mobile financial services


  • 86.7% of respondents own mobile phones
  • Only 7.5% of respondents have speech-enabled phones
  • 90.8% of the respondents with mobile phones have registered with mobile financial services (MFS)
  • Of these, only 19.3% can independently manipulate MFS menus on their phones
  • Introducing mobile phone operator-based MFS speech interface would significantly increase independent access and utilisation of MFS by blind and low vision users.


Since these services are built on text-based sight-dependent platforms, users who are blind or partially sighted are not able to utilise the services indecently but rather have to depend on sighted assistants thus compromising on confidentiality and security of their deposits.


The research focuses on Kenya, where 70–80 percent of the population moves money, sends remittances, and makes payments over mobile money transfer platforms. To the extent that mobile financial services (MFS) utilize sight-dependent text-based interfaces, people who are blind may be excluded from fully utilizing MFS. This research highlights and provides recommendations to ensure that people who are blind have full access to economic opportunities.


Current e-banking practices were assessed to learn the extent to which they are accessible for people who are blind and provide recommendations for future projects based on the results of the survey. This information can help donors and companies provide more accessible technology to allow for all individuals to participate future ebanking programs. In terms of the future, discussions about this are going on to identify sources of funding to implement key recommendations on making the service more inclusive.   Discussions have been taking place with the leading mobile network operation in Kenya (Safaricom which commands over 80% of the mobile financial services sector) on a joint initiative with Perkins to address key operator-based interventions. This can also be replicated in other regions to see if disparities also exist.

Research about Mobile Financial Services

“A totally blind MFS user with her sighted assistant at an MFS Agent.”

© Institutional Development Program 2013.


Mr. Aubrey WEBSON
Perkins International
Watertown, MA 02472, USA
+1 (617) 972-7534

Nominated by Anne Hayes, Perkins International