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Vodafone M-Pesa partners with WaterHealth India to serve the underserved ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ customers

WaterHealth is a global leader in setting up decentralized water purification systems that provides safe drinking water to over five (5) million people globally 

June 18, 2015: Vodafone India, one of India’s leading telecommunications service providers has partnered withWaterHealth India (WHIN), a wholly owned subsidiary of US based WaterHealth International, to facilitate its cash collection process across 450 locations in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. 

A large part of the world faces an acute water crisis today, in that about 780 million people do not have access to clean drinking water which leads to serious health, economic and social repercussions. Water related diseases account for maximum mortality rate among children under age five (5) and about 50% of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients being treated for water borne diseases. Apart from this, women and girls who are expected to fetch water for the household (in many countries) have to trek long distances and spend hours of their time ferrying water. Distressed by the suffering caused by water-related issues, WaterHealth International embarked on the noble journey of providing safe and clean drinking water to the underserved regions of the world. 

WaterHealth India’s business model involves setting up of Community Water Systems (CWS’) called WaterHealth Centers (WHCs) within underserved communities through Public Private Community Partnerships; these WHCs are located in diverse locations across the states. Given the decentralized nature of its operation, one of the biggest challenges faced by the Company is Cash Management. Currently WHIN manages its cash collection through an in-house team of Collection Executives who are exposed to significant risks as they carry large amounts of cash while traveling through public transport and also waste substantial amount of their time in depositing the (collected) money into the bank.

Through this partnership, WHIN plans to address its cash collection issues with the help of M-Pesa whereby Vodafone’s Distributor Sales Executive [DSE] would visit each WaterHealth Centres (WHC) and collect physical cash from the Operator/Business Associate (managing the center). The DSE will then load M-Pesa balance (equivalent to amount of cash collected) to the Operator/Business Associate’s mobile number from where it can be remitted easily in the form of e-money to the WaterHealth Account. This process would result in instant transfer of money from the Business Associate to the Company’s account thereby reducing the risk to cash in transit.

Elaborating on the partnership, Suresh Sethi, Business Head – M-Pesa, Vodafone India said “Vodafone M-Pesa association with WaterHealth International demonstrates our commitment to use mobile technology to support community/social initiatives in the country. We are delighted to partner with WaterHealth International and ease their collections processes significantly. To that extent it is a unique solution for the decentralized business.” 

Speaking on this partnership, Vikas Shah, Chief Operating Officer, WaterHealth International said “This solution will increase the operational efficiency of the Company and reduce the cost, time and effort devoted for cash collections. We will continue to use this service as we expand our presence in other parts of the country to achieve our audacious goal of serving 100 million consumers by 2020.”

Expressing delight on this latest initiative, Rohit Tandon, Business Head –Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, Vodafone India said, “We see a natural synergy between Vodafone M-Pesa and WaterHealth India (WHI) to offer services to the less privileged community of India. We are delighted to partner with WHI to facilitate their cash collection process using M-Pesa’s safe, secure, and cashless transaction capability. We are confident that M-Pesa will bring transformational benefits to WHI and further drive financial inclusion at the bottom of the pyramid.”

Vodafone India provides customers with a new currency in the form of M-Pesa, the world renowned mobile wallet and money transfer service. Vodafone M-Pesa is an innovative, safe and secure mobile wallet enables complete suite of services like money transfer, bill payments, and recharge on the move from the mobile. It caters to all segments of the society, from the unbanked to the under banked and to the net-savvy and evolved customers. Today, with a pan-India distribution of over 90,000 agents and more than 3 million customers, Vodafone M-Pesa is the largest banking correspondent in the country and is playing a vital role in enabling financial inclusion and m-commerce. Over 50% of Vodafone customer base is rural and Vodafone already has a strong distribution and mobile penetration and the ability to provide banking services on mobile.

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Vodafone M-Pesa was launched in April 2014. In a very short span, the service has reached out to 923 mandals in 23 districts through a network of 4915 authorized agents and 839 Vodafone exclusive stores, in the region.

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