Launching the BRAC Innovation Fund for Mobile Money Bangladesh is the fastest-growing mobile money market in the world, and BRAC sees an opportunity here to develop innovations for poverty reduction, better service delivery, and expanded financial inclusion. After an open challenge for ideas, BRAC selected seven ideas that utilised mobile money in new ways for piloting. These included digitalising school fee payments, microfinance services, payments to extension workers, and fundraising. BRAC has integrated research into these projects to capture gains in efficiency, client satisfaction, and other important considerations about scaling these initiatives.

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7 ways BRAC will innovate with mobile money this year

June 1, 2014 by  and 

We are excited to officially announce the winners of the innovation fund for mobile money challenge! These projects were selected from the 100 ideas that were submitted on the innovation fund challenge web site, reviewed by external advisors, and finally decided on by an internal judging panel. These projects will be implemented over the course of the next year by BRAC in Bangladesh—so stay tuned for many more updates!

  1. (Nearly) cashless branch: This pilot undertaken by the integrated development programme is a move towards creating cashless BRAC branches in the remote char areas (riverine islands created and destroyed by floods and erosion). Given the transportation challenges and limited access to financial services in these areas, mobile money will make it easier for both BRAC clients and staff.
  2. Mobile micro-insurance: Most of BRAC’s clients lack access to traditional forms of insurance. Through a joint collaboration, the microfinance programme and outsider partners will offer micro-insurance with low, flexible premiums using mobile technology to poor households. It will offer protection for incidents like accidents and illnesses.
  3. Flexible school fee payments for secondary schools: Paying school fees can be a challenge for low-income parents. To address this, the BRAC University Institute of Educational Development will introduce a flexible payment scheme using bKash at the SSCOPE low-cost secondary schools. Parents can pay without needing to come to the school premises each time.
  4. Adolescent savings: To encourage savings behaviour among adolescent girls and provide easy access to safe savings, the education programme will work with their adolescent clubs to encourage the habit of mobile savings among its youth club members. Adoption of technology is higher among youth, so this can drive adoption and create a lifetime savings habit.

    ADP Club

    Young women participate in a kishori or adolescent club. photo credit: BRAC/Shehzad Noorani

  5. Mobile payments for community health workers: This initiative by health, nutrition and population programme will look to improve operational efficiency, transparency and security by integrating mobile money instead of cash to disburse honorariums and incentives to thousands of workers.
  6. Relief vouchers for disaster victims: When a disaster strikes, the most important thing is ensuring that the most vulnerable can access relief as soon as possible. To respond to this need, the disaster, environment and climate change programme will develop a mobile voucher system that enables clients to directly access goods from local businesses, who will be reimbursed via mobile money by BRAC.

    Damages as the result of  tidal water and a landslide in the Bandarban area of Bangladesh. photo credit: BRAC

    Damages as the result of  tidal water and a landslide in the Bandarban area of Bangladesh. photo credit: BRAC

  7. Mobile disaster relief funds: For disasters like evictions, garment factory fires, and floods it is difficult to mobilise funds quickly, even though many would like to donate. The disaster, environment and climate change programme will set up a simple donation platform that enables them to send money via their mobile phones. This idea originated from a university student in Chittagong.

All of the authors work with the BRAC social innovation lab.

- See more at:

BRAC's Innovation Fund for Mobile Money

Do you have a great idea on how BRAC can use mobile money? The 2nd challenge is happening now -share your idea today! 

Read this blog in Forbes about the Innovation Fund! 


The BRAC Innovation Fund for Mobile Money aims to increase innovation in mobile money through seeding a diverse set of projects and preparing the organisation to adopt mobile money at scale. This project is a unique three-year partnership between the BRAC Social Innovation Lab and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

We hope to enable the poor to better understand and access mobile money. We plan to develop new services and products that mobile money makes possible. Finally, we hope to find opportunities to improve organisational efficiency.

Many organisations around the world are also working are these issues. While the potential for financial inclusion is promising, the pathway remains unclear, especially when thinking about how to empower millions. We want to learn as much as possible about mobile money use. Last year we invited leading mobile money experts to participate in our Frugal I.... We are capturing the lessons of our innovation fund projects and we plan to share what we have learned and assist others. 



What we are doing

After winning our innovation challenge, the following seven ideas were selected and are being piloted.





(nearly) Cashless branch

Integrated Development Programme

 In a remote area, digitailising the majority of client and staff services, such as loan repayment and staff allowances

Micro-insurance for borrowers and their families

Microfinance Programme

When clients take out a new loan, they have the option to purchase insurance, such as credit shielding, through mobile money.

Flexible school fee payments

Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University

Enabling low-income parents to pay school fees via mobile money on a flexible schedule.

mSavings for adolescents

Education Programme

Increasing financial awareness and encouraging mobile-based savings habits among adolescents

Mobile payments for community health workers

Health, Nutrition and Population Programme

Digitalising payments to grassroots workers who provide basic health services to their communities

Post-disaster digital relief

Disaster, Environment and Climate Change Programme

Using SMS-based vouchers to enable affected households to quickly access relief goods from local businesses, who BRAC reimburses via mobile money

mRelief funds

Disaster, Environment and Climate Change Programme

Establishing a mobile-money-based mechanism for local fundraising to quickly mobilise resources for disasters and other crises.



The Innovation Fund for Mobile Money is supported from September 2013 to September 2016 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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