Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kiva partners with PT Ruma to fund mobile technology loans

We are excited to welcome PT Ruma to the Kiva family as our latest Field Partner!

PT Ruma is a telecommunications and bill pay enterprise based in Jakarta, Indonesia. In its own words, its mission is to “increase dignity, income, and access for the poor through technology." This is a lofty goal, which it plans to achieve by helping Indonesians who live on less than USD$2.50 a day become contractors who sell PT Ruma's services for profit. The company refers to these entrepreneurs individually as “agents” and collectively as the “PT Ruma agent network.”

PT Ruma's agents receive training and support to sell prepaid mobile phone airtime and allow people to pay their utility and other bills using mobile phones and related technologies. Through Ruma, Kiva loans provide these poor entrepreneurs with the start-up capital they need to begin operating as agents. Kiva loans can currently be used to fund agents selling PT Ruma's cell phone airtime and bill-pay services.

The cell phone airtime product enables rural populations to purchase prepaid minutes, known as Ruma credits, across the 11 different mobile networks offered in Indonesia's competitive telecommunications market. These remote communities have lacked mobile services due to limited technical skills, demand, and the high cost of maintenance. But, by managing a wholesale inventory of pre-paid minutes on all 11 networks, PT Ruma removes these barriers for rural retailers managing sales of cell phone minutes.

Kiva loans enable agents to purchase and maintain an ample inventory of Ruma credits, simultaneously allowing them to build a credit history with PT Ruma and build savings to fund their inventories from the income of their businesses. On top of that, by selling minutes in rural regions, these agents are ushering more people into the mobile age, connecting them to their families and communities, as well as global information and markets.

Ruma's bill pay service utilizes Indonesian company Kartuku's Electronic Data Capture (EDC) technology, which allows agents to collect cash for bills -- like for water and electricity -- electronically enter payments, and generate receipts for customers. The collected cash is distributed to the appropriate service vendors, and the agents receive a flat fee for saving customers the time and money they would have spent paying the bills in person. This time saved translates into more work hours, productivity and income -- a win-win for people in remote areas.

Kiva loans will help agents make safety deposits for the EDC devices, increasing their accessibility and extending the service to more people.

PT Ruma offers incentives and opportunities for agents to become full-time field officers and double their earnings. Ruma's field officers travel between agents, which requires a motorbike. To help out, Ruma offers 0%, four-year loans for agents to purchase these bikes. 

We are proud to join a prestigious group of PT Ruma supporters, including the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference, the Global Social Venture Competition, Omidyar Network and Unitus Impact. We believe the company's anti-poverty philosophy will go a long way toward empowering entrepreneurs and their communities in some of the poorest regions of the world.

For more information on PT Ruma, check out its Kiva Field Partner profile. Send any questions or comments about Ruma or Kiva's involvement in mobile technology to blog@kiva.org.

photos courtesy of PT Ruma