Lessons Learned from Pathfinder on mobile money payments for CHWs

Pathfinder International pays thousands of CHWs via mobile money for stipends and training costs in Tanzania, Kenya and more recently Haiti and Mozambique. In a recent interview, Pathfinder’s Marion McNabb shared key lessons learned related to developing and implementing mobile money applications to pay community health workers.

  • In the right setting, mobile money serves as an effective tool to rapidly send payments to a large workforce: Mobile payments enable Pathfinder to rapidly and effectively send payments to thousands of CHWs spread across a country. Payments are sent immediately, and the mobile payment system is transparent and reduces the burden and safety threat for employees to carry and deliver cash payments.  Additionally, CHWs are able to receive payments on time and securely.  
  • Design your mobile money program to ensure the CHWs receive their payments: When designing the program, ensure that the CHWs provide the correct phone numbers and that they are the recipients of the payment. In Pathfinder’s experience, some CHWs provided phone numbers for their close of kin, and therefore did not receive the payments.  It’s also important to ensure that program procedures allow mobile money transactions to be reversed in the event that a CHW provided an incorrect number or changes phone numbers. 
  • Telecom and bank partners can be leveraged to provide CHWs with mobile money training: Pathfinder usually partners with the mobile network operator (Safaricom or Vodacom with mPesa services) or the bank (in the case of mobile money in Nigeria) to conduct instructional trainings for CHWs on how to use mobile money to ensure the health workers are familiar with these processes. Some Telecom and bank partners have programs to support mobile money outreach and education efforts in communities.
  • Mobile money uptake varies based on context:  In Kenya and Tanzania, where the mobile money market is robust, CHWs rapidly accepted to the switch from cash to mobile payments because CHWs often already use mobile money. In countries were mobile money is new, more training is needed to demonstrate how to conduct transactions, receive money and cash out, and to provide an overview of all the fees associated with transactions.  
  • Ensure there is a robust agent network to provide CHWs with continued training and support: In addition to providing instruction to CHWs on how to use mobile money, it’s important to have agents around where the CHW lives or works to ensure continued use
  • Ensure the program team is knowledgeable about mobile money:   CHWs may demonstrate resistance to using mobile money for a variety of factors, including the overall concept of digital banking vs. a cash culture. In addition to providing training to CHWs and supporting mobile money sensitization at the community level, it’s important for program staff (e.g. finance staff) to understand the mobile payment system and work with CHWs to support them during a transition to using mobile money from a cash system.


To learn more, please email Marion McNabb or the HFG Mobile Money Activity

Photo: Community Health Worker Elizabeth Mueni visits Miriam Nduku 26 at her home in the Deep Sea Slum of Nairobi, Kenya. ©Pathfinder International