The CBJ, Gates Foundation launch empowerment initiative

The Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) on Wednesday signed an agreement with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to launch Mobile Money for Resilience (MM4R), a multifaceted grant initiative focused on financially empowering vulnerable groups such as low income Jordanians and refugees.

As the first initiative of its kind in the Middle East, MM4R will provide access to more advanced digital financial services, such as payment transfers, savings and credit.

Launched with a US$3 million contribution from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MM4R hopes to raise up to US$11 million over five years to scale up mobile money services in government and humanitarian agency cash transfer programs.

“MM4R” mainly targets low income Jordanians in Ma’an, Tafileh, Mafraq and the capital Amman, in addition to refugees. Jordan currently hosts over 655,000 Syrian refugees registered by the UNHCR. Using mobile money for cash assistance will build resilience in households and businesses, and support local economic development.

During the signing ceremony, Dr. Ziad Fariz, Central Bank of Jordan Governor said: “Mobile Money for Resilience is an important component of Jordan’s 2018-2020 National Financial Inclusion Strategy, which is focused on empowering the unbanked and financially under-served segments of the population. Initiatives like MM4R help to make humanitarian solutions more sustainable by building resilience and social cohesion. We hope to enable both low income Jordanians and refugees to build financial identities by giving them the chance to receive remittances and safely store funds in a more convenient and digital way.” The MM4R investment is part of a drive by the Gates Foundation to expand its work to address the refugee crisis in the Middle East. The foundation is seeking to catalyze positive change for communities affected by displacement, by investing in innovative programs that take advantage of advances that have been made elsewhere in global development efforts.

In turn, Dr. Valerie Nkamgang Bemo, who leads the Gates Foundation’s global humanitarian program commented: “For decades, Jordan has played a central role in hosting refugees and displaced persons from the Middle East and beyond, and the impact of this is felt by host communities as well as the refugee population. Digital financial service programs like Mobile Money for Resilience will allow the most vulnerable populations to receive and save money, grow businesses, and escape poverty. We believe this will result in a better integrated society, and we welcome other partners to join this important effort to expand its impact.” MM4R will facilitate partnerships between donors, government agencies, humanitarian actors, and the private sector aimed at improving the quality of life of refugees and Jordanians by expanding access to finance, developing the digital financial service ecosystem, and improving the effectiveness of humanitarian cash transfer programs.

The program will be managed by a dedicated unit, which will be embedded in the Central Bank of Jordan. MM4R forms part of Jordan’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy, which was launched during the Financial Inclusion Policy Forum on December 4, 2017. The event, held in Amman under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, focused on the economic and social empowerment of the unbanked and financially under-served.

Source: Jordan News Agency