The first firm to launch a mobile money service in Haiti in the
next six months will receive $2.5 million in funding from the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The second company to do so within a year will receive $1.5
million – part of a $10 million inititative to help Haiti get
back on its feet following the devastating earthquake in

The quake, which measured 7.2 on the Richter Scale, killed
in excess of 200,000 according to government estimates. The Gates
Foundation wants to encourage mobile money services because of
cash shortages caused by the destruction of one-third of
the country’s bank branches and ATMs.

According to the foundation mobile money
services will help families and friends, humanitarian agencies,
charities and donors get billions of aid money and remittances into
the hands of Haitians. In the long term, mobile money could help
millions improve their lives through easy access to savings
accounts and other financial services, according to Mark Suzman,
acting president, global development program, at the Gates

“Out of the ruins of Haiti’s tragic earthquake there is an
unprecedented opportunity to improve the lives of millions of
Haitians and unlock the country’s economic potential through mobile
money,” he said.

“Making financial services widely available to
the poorest families in the developing world can help break the
cycle of poverty by giving them a safe place to save, guard against
risks, build assets, and provide opportunities for the next

The foundation is working alongside the US Agency for International
Development (USAID) on the fund and has promised the first firm to
launch a mobile money service in the next six months the sum of
$2.5 million providing certain criteria is met. The second firm to
do so within a year will receive $1.5 million.

A further $6 million will be awarded as the
first five million transactions take place. USAID will also
contribute around $5 million to the fund and give technical and
management assistance to the firms who get involved.