American financial services firm Mastercard has introduced a digital ordering system, dubbed Kionect, to enable small kiosk owners to order and pay through SMS to wholesalers in Nairobi, Kenya.

These orders create a digital record that allows the owners to access micro-loans to stock inventory.

Kionect provides the digital log of transaction data required to qualify the micro-retailers for loans from a regional micro-finance provider, Musoni.

Mastercard has collaborated with wholesaler and distributor, Kaskazi to trial the new system with more than 1,000 micro-businesses in the Kibera, Kawangware and Kariobangi settlements of Nairobi.

Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) has agreed to facilitate the digital payment process between the kiosk owners and the wholesalers, as well as work as a platform re-seller for its wholesale business clients.

Michael Elliott, vice-president of Mastercard Labs for Financial Inclusion in Nairobi, said: “We have worked hand-in-hand with micro-merchants to truly understand their daily hurdles.

“Learning that product sourcing, tracking inventory and access to flexible, short-term credit are major pain points, we set out to develop Kionect. This Mastercard technology opens up a new avenue for micro-retailers to grow their business, increase consumer demand and ultimately contribute to economic development in Africa.”