What can mobile money do for CHWs?

In November 2014, Pamela Riley represented HFG at the Global Education and Technology Health (GETHealth) Summit, a conference designed to promote the use of digital media to enhance health worker training and health programs.  In a break-out session entitled Tools and Experiences Using Mobile Money to Support Frontline Health Workers, Pathfinder and D-Tree International presented a diverse set of use cases from Tanzania, Nigeria, Haiti and Kenya in which mobile money applications served programmatic objectives.  The presentation by HFG addressed the question, “Why should CHWs care about mobile money?” Below are some key messages from the session: 

  • Mobile money can improve the lives of the families CHWs serve, and thus promote their health.  Research has demonstrated that when families have access to digital financial tools, they can more easily raise funds from friends and family in health emergencies, acquire savings to reduce financial risks of serious illnesses, and access insurance, credit and other services.
  • Mobile money can improve the lives of CHWs:  Access to a mobile money account can save CHWs time and expense of collecting stipends, salaries and other payments.   Use of mobile money services expand ICT skills and promote access to other mobile services.  Mobile money also creates valuable revenue opportunities for CHWs who can serve as mobile money agents for service providers (more information below).
  • CHWs can catalyze the uptake of mobile money:  One of the challenges contributing to slow mobile money uptake in some countries is that prospective consumers don’t have confidence in  mobile money providers and don’t see the benefits.  As trusted figures in their communities, CHWs could be instrumental partners in educating and facilitating service enrollment, building on their strong relationships within communities and deep understanding about their clients’ needs.

A key concern raised is:  will educating CHWs about the benefits of serving as mobile money agents simply add to or distract from their already large workload?  The answer to this question is not yet known.

However, financial security and good health are integrally related, and increased financial inclusion for CHWs offers a pathway to additional resources. By integrating financial and health education for CHWs, health programs may see better results. 

For more information, please contact the HFG Mobile Money Activity


Photo: A community health worker on a home visit (© Chelsea Hedquist/Photoshare)