Clinton Global Initiative

2006 Committment Announcement


Focus Area: Poverty
Project: Open Architecture Technology Solutions for Microfinance
Commitment By: Lori Bonn, Vice President Development, Sevak Solutions
Committing Entity: Non-profit
Partner: Celltransact (South Africa)
Overall Value: $l.5 million
Commitment Duration: 18 months


Objective: To promote inclusive systems for the delivery of financial services to the world’s 1.7 billion urban and rural poor by leading the industry toward successful solutions that combine business innovation, standard and effective infrastructures, cross-sector collaboration and risk management, allowing microfinance institutions to become part of formal payments systems.

Commitment: To develop – and make available to the microfinance industry - an open architecture transaction system, beyond the traditional branch infrastructure, that provides online and offline functionality over a range of cellular (GSM, GPRS, and USSD) and wireless standards (802.11 WiFi) at a substantially reduced cost. This solution is designed for urban and rural areas globally and will promote interoperability and collaborative opportunities for non-traditional partnerships among non-profits, microfinance institutions, banks and governmental agencies.

Background: Sevak Solutions is a start-up initiative that has emerged from a consortium of microfinance institutions seeking to understand the role technology could play in scaling microfinance. Early work demonstrated a need for alternative, low-cost transaction solutions and business models that addressed the needs of microfinance institutions that do not have the client volumes required to afford, or piggy-back on, existing payment systems. Sevak Solutions is focused on interoperability, open architecture systems that can connect to cell phones, point-of-sale terminals, ATMs, or any other access devices available in the market. The company performs its own in-country research and development, supports technology innovators that are attempting to enter the market, and provides strategic and implementation consulting on a global basis. Sevak Solutions is interested in promoting a set of technologies and migratory path for microfinance institutions and microfinance banks to expand their reach to the unbanked.

Milestones:
  • Secured seed funding of $170,000 from The Lemelson Foundation to enhance existing open source payment system
  • Develop the product specifications, business plans, and financial requirements to combine the Remote Transaction System and Celltransact’s technology into an integrated solution.
  • Raise an additional $1,000,000 required to implement solution at the regional level in Africa, creating a regional switch

Point of Contact:

Janine Firpo
President
Sevak Solutions
2 Ross Circle, Oakland, CA 94618 USA
Ph: 510-655-8558
Fax: 510-655-8581
jfirpo@sevaksolutions.org
www.sevaksolutions.org

Geographic Scope: Initial tests and implementation in Africa. However, solution is being designed to work anywhere in the world.

Partnership Opportunities: Celltransact’s existing real-time transaction processing and account hosting solution is available to microfinance institutions. Together with Sevak Solutions, Celltransact is seeking to reach microfinance institutions and banks in Africa that are interested in collaborating together to create a regional switch appropriately priced and managed for the microfinance industry. In addition, Sevak Solutions is seeking grant funding to support its global mission and Celltransact is seeking investment support for business development.
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