In August 2020, the Microsoft Corporation‘s Airband Initiative and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the USAID/Microsoft Airband Initiative, a public-private partnership seeking to bring Internet access to more women around the world, expand women’s economic opportunities, and enable digital development services. M-KOPA was one of six Airband partners funded.

M-KOPA provides digital financial services to underbanked consumers in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Tanzania, allowing more women to access affordable smartphones though the company's pay-as-you-go model, which allows customers to put down an upfront deposit for a product followed by regular micro-payments until full repayment. To further address social and economic constraints that often prevent women from purchasing smartphones, M-KOPA researched and piloted solutions to improve its engagement with female agents and customers, including developing and testing direct-to-women sales channels and strategies in its Kenya market.


During the performance period, M-KOPA:

  • Identified scalable and commercially viable gender-intentional approaches and strategies.
  • Achieved greater awareness and buy-in within the company to incorporate a gender lens in its commercial strategy.
  • Increased access to smartphones and digital skills for women.
  • Improved quality-of-life and income for female customers and sales agents.

The project established a profitable model for smartphone sales on credit to rural women and debunked the assumption that women were high-risk borrowers, with women in female cooperative groups demonstrating higher repayment rates compared to the rest of the customer base. Over the course of the project, of the 682,000 phones sold, 258,000 (38 percent) of them were sold to women. Meanwhile, the project’s sales campaigns increased the incomes of female sales agents, some by as much as 100 percent. According to the project impact study, conducted by the impact measurement firm 60 Decibels, 97 percent of surveyed female sales agents (197) and 90 percent of surveyed female customers (173) reported a positive impact on their quality-of-life after purchasing a M-KOPA smartphone. These results were shared across the various M-KOPA country offices, which cultivated greater awareness and buy-in to incorporate a gender lens into the company’s overarching commercial strategy.

This study aims to identify robust outcomes that resulted from the USAID/Microsoft Airband Initiative buy-in’s M-Kopa activity.

You can also access this accompanying slide deck with key outcomes from the report.