Access to formal and semi-formal financial services is limited in Lesotho, especially for low-income and rural populations. The majority of Basotho are excluded from the formal credit system, while restricted accessibility and high pricing of banking products further limits uptake. The Lesotho Government has identified a lack of access to financial services as a major constraint to job creation and income generation, and have prioritized financial inclusion in the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) and the Financial Sector Development Strategy (FSDS).
In line with Government priorities, the Ministry of Finance and UNDP developed the Lesotho Scaling Inclusion through Mobile Money (SIMM) Project, aimed at catalysing inclusive and pro-poor growth by scaling up formal and semi-formal financial services through mobile money. The Lesotho SIMM project promotes the use and adoption of technology, through mobile money, to develop solutions that enhance financial inclusion. The mobile money sector can be used as a channel to offer innovative and low-cost credit, savings and insurance products.
In partnership with FinMark Trust, UNDP hosted a Hackathon as part of the Lesotho SIMM Project. The 3-day event was held at the Avani Maseru Hotel from the 20th-22nd April 2018. The Lesotho SIMM Hackathon aimed to promote product innovations for inclusive financial services within the mobile money sector, with a particular focus on poor and rural populations of Lesotho. The Hackathon provided a platform for young innovators to collaborate and explore their ideas, while interacting with experts in the financial services, private sector, business development and civil society.