Pact and the WORTH Program
In 2001, Pact created the WORTH program, an award-winning village savings and loan program that has reached 1.1 million people worldwide and integrates community banking, literacy and numeracy training, and enterprise development. WORTH enables members to increase their incomes, start businesses and become leaders and entrepreneurs who improve themselves and the lives of those around them. In 2015, Pact leveraged ICT infrastructure to upgrade WORTH groups’ accounting activities from paper to digital. Between 2015-2020, Pact developed and piloted an innovative app for WORTH members called myWORTH.
How myWORTH Works
myWORTH provides a simplified, transparent, digital version of accounting forms, thereby increasing efficiency, effectiveness, and data quality. Available 24/7, myWORTH automates banking functions, manages loan requests and approvals, tracks savings data, and builds credit histories for later access to the formal financial sector. myWORTH saves time and money with e-ledger entries so users do not have to travel to and participate in WORTH meetings in person. The app contains an e-learning feature to train users in financial literacy and other relevant topics. At the core, myWORTH is a platform for financial linkages and learning.
Reach and Impact
Pact has rolled out myWORTH to 3,700 users in Tanzania, 400 in Eswatini and 400 in Zambia. To date, roll-out has focused on some of the most vulnerable populations that Pact serves, namely adolescent girls, young women, and caregivers of orphans and vulnerable children. These users have reported saving time and energy and increased participation in economic activities through remote engagement in saving activities. Users have also reported reduced record-keeping efforts, greater efficiency in seeking out loans, 24/7 access to and transparency of group data, accuracy, and funds security. myWorth’s transparency also improved access to group external credit, increased loan-issuance options, and improved financial literacy. In addition, users reported using myWORTH in combination with other apps, such as WhatsApp and Instagram, to enhance their relationship-building with market actors, resulting in myWORTH users offering bulk purchases and distributing goods to other users in their networks for a small mark-up.
Data Privacy and Risk Mitigation
As Pact launches the myWORTH app in multiple geopolitical contexts, it is aware that regulations and data privacy issues vary by country. Telecom companies and financial institutions are tightly regulated. It is critical that myWORTH aligns with local standards and regulations. Pact will conduct a digital innovation analysis to understand local laws and standards. It will draw from its extensive experience in Tanzania and Eswatini to align with the local context and compliance.
There are also global data privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union. Pact will ensure these laws are always adhered to and any other regulations that may come up in the future.
There is the risk of low internet penetration. This is a medium risk because computer technology is more prevalent today than ever and according to InternetWorldStats, roughly 39% of Africa has access to the internet, with a goal of achieving universal internet access by 2030. There is risk of poor connectivity that will be mitigated by one of the app features through building out the offline functionality. Offline functionality will allow users to queue up sending and receiving funds offline so transactions can be transmitted once there is internet connectivity without using costly mobile data.
The Future of myWORTH
Pact will scale myWORTH by building out the functionalities of the App to include features such as economic-user segmentation, inter-operability, offline capabilities, and upgrades on the e-learning features. Also, introducing it to existing, well-established WORTH groups. This will provide a foundation for further expansion within Tanzania and Eswatini first, then to WORTH groups in other countries. The WORTH program has been implemented in 54 programs across 16 countries for more than 20 years, reaching 1.1 million people. Currently, WORTH is integrated into Pact’s public sector projects where there is a livelihoods component. myWORTH will be introduced into those projects to scale its use. At the end of two years, the myWORTH app is expected to have benefited 1,347,431 stakeholders. With a continuing growth rate of 20% over another eight years, at 10 years the myWORTH app is expected to benefit 4,830,966 stakeholders in those two countries alone.