Friday, October 24, 2014

GSMA Mobile for Development Impact publishes Zoona case study

GSMA Mobile for Development Impact supports the digital empowerment of people in emerging markets through its Mobile for Development resource. It is a central platform of data, analysis and insight used to inform investment and design decisions for mobile services. Check out what they have to say about Zoona by viewing the full case study here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Extending reach: Mobile money in rural areas

This month, Zoona is mentioned in Jennifer Frydrych and Hege Aschim's report on the progression of Mobile Money in rural areas. Key findings show that Zoona's success is largely due to nurturing and growing relationships with local emerging entrepreneurs. Read the full article here

Monday, October 13, 2014

Zoona attends the Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit

More than 74 million young people worldwide are unemployed.  This massive number presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the private companies, non-profits, governments, academics, and funders who are focused on creating opportunities for youth globally.  This week, Zoona joined 450+ of those most interested in creating sustainable change for youth at the Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit in Washington, D.C.

The Summit was a great opportunity to learn how Zoona’s support for emerging entrepreneurs in Africa connects with the larger picture of support to youth entrepreneurs globally.   At Zoona, we have created at least 750 new jobs in Zambia through our agent network, and recently partnered with the National Youth Council of Malawi to recruit and train over 80 young people to manage Zoona agent locations in Malawi.

Our agents are empowered to manage their own business while receiving financing, marketing, and training support from Zoona.  Training is critical to their success; yet, it’s also a challenge, and to meet this challenge we are constantly learning, updating and modifying our training program.  Therefore, we were interested in much of the work presented at the conference on enterprise development, including the Enterprise Your Life approach to building life skills presented by IFAD, Making Cents, and Silatech.   This approach highlighted how important life skills are for youth in business.  For example, if a young person doesn’t think that she can say no to adults, she won’t say no when an adult asks her to buy something on credit, even if she would prefer not to take this risk with her business.   Considering these type of life skills, as well as considering how young women and men may respond differently to the demands of running a business, help us to build a comprehensive approach to our training program.

As Zoona rapidly expands, we will continue to integrate lessons from the wider industry as we create more and more opportunities for young people in terms of both employment and ownership.  We’re particularly excited to learn more at the Nike Foundation/Unreasonable Institute Girl Effect Accelerator next month.

For more on how Zoona is empowering youth through our agent network, I highly encourage you to listen to our agent tell you in their words by checking out these testimonials. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Zoona has been invited to the world's first accelerator program dedicated to benefit millions of girls in poverty

Zoona has been selected to the Girl Effect Accelerator, the world’s first accelerator dedicated to benefiting girls in poverty. The program is being launched as a partnership between The Nike Foundation and Unreasonable Group. Beginning on October 31st, just outside of San Francisco, this exclusive 2-week program will bring together 10 companies that are positioned to impact the lives of millions of adolescent girls living in poverty with world-class mentors, strategic financing, and an access to a global network of support.

“Today, less than two cents of every international development dollar goes to girls – the very people who could do most to end poverty,” says Shaifali Puri, executive director of global innovation at the Nike Foundation. “As long as girls remain invisible, the world misses out on a tremendous opportunity for change.”

Zoona has been selected to participate because the Girl Effect Accelerator selection committee is convinced that Zoona represents one of the 10 most promising startups in the world positioned to empower and impact girls across emerging markets in Africa.

“We aren’t working with your typical Silicon Valley startup in this program,” says Daniel Epstein, who is directing the Girl Effect Accelerator and is the founder of the Unreasonable Institute and Unreasonable Group. “The 10 selected ventures currently operate in over 30 countries and averaged over $2 million in revenue last year off of customers living on less than $2 a day.” According to Epstein, “We are hedging our bets on true “black swans:” startups who have significant market traction, are working in the fastest emerging markets of our time, and are positioned to measurably benefit millions of girls in poverty. The team at Zoona is exactly the type of venture we are privileged to be working with.”

During the program, the entrepreneurs will be meeting with 20 renowned mentors including Jessica Jackley, co-founder of, George Kembel, founder of the Stanford, Seth Godin, serial entrepreneur and author, and Paul Polak who has uplifted over 20 million people from poverty. 

“We are launching the Girl Effect Accelerator as a real-world experiment to better understand the impact that entrepreneurs, investors, and business can bring to girls in poverty,” says Puri. “Today there are over 250 million girls living in poverty. Every year, more than $120Bn is spent in international development assistance, yet this system has yet to produce the game-changing results we all desire for girls and the world. This program is designed to bring new problem solvers to the table: entrepreneurs.”

According to Epstein, “The Girl Effect Accelerator aims to spark a conversation around how business investors, and entrepreneurs can put a positive dent on history. Zoona serves as a prime example of a venture that is solving problems we didn’t think were solvable, in markets most don’t yet consider to be markets, with technologies we didn’t know existed – profitably. Each of these selected companies shares a common eagerness to experiment in what it means to measurably benefit millions of girls in poverty.” 

The accelerator will conclude with a Culminating Event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on November 11th. And if you are an investor and you have questioned why entrepreneurs aren’t solving harder and more meaningful problems, you may be interested in attending the private investor gathering on November 12th.

For more information about The Girl Effect Accelerator, and to sign up for the culminating event on November 11th and the private investor gathering on November 12th please visit:

About the Girl Effect
The Girl Effect is a movement focused on the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves, their families, their communities, their countries and the world. Created by the Nike Foundation, in collaboration with the NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Coalition for Adolescent Girls, The Girl Effect is fuelled by hundreds of thousands of girl champions who recognize the untapped potential of adolescent girls living in poverty.

About Unreasonable Group
The vision behind Unreasonable Group found its roots at the Unreasonable Institute, an international accelerator for early stage entrepreneurs who leverage business to tackle major social and environmental challenges that Daniel Epstein founded in the summer of 2010. Epstein later founded The Unreasonable Group with the goal of launching a portfolio of companies that will together support the next generation of entrepreneurs aimed at leveraging profit to tackle seemingly intractable social and environmental problems.

About Nike Foundation
The Nike Foundation leverages the power of insights, innovation and inspiration to stop the cycle of intergenerational poverty. As a company, Nike believes in the power of human potential. At the Nike Foundation, we invest exclusively in what we see as the greatest source of untapped human potential in the world today: adolescent girls.

10 Selected Companies
  1. Bridge International Academies: The world’s largest and fastest growing chain of schools. Educating over 100,000 children for an average of $6 a month.
  2. Eco-Fuel Africa: Converting agricultural waster into clean, inexpensive, cooking fuel for Africans. Supporting over 500 women entrepreneurs and ensuring thousands of girls stay in school.
  3. Embrace: Empowering mothers who are not able to access traditional healthcare. First product is the world’s most affordable ‘infant warmer.’ More than 20,000 mothers in poverty have already benefited from this life-saving technology.
  4. Eneza: Fastest growing mobile education app in Africa.
  5. Greenlight Planet: Sold over 2 million solar home lights to off-grid families, and continuing to skyrocket distribution and reach.
  6. Jayashree Industries: Making radically affordable sanitary pads to prevent health complications and school dropout amongst girls. Over 1,500 women owned franchises.
  7. Paga: #1 mobile payments service in Nigeria. Over 1.8 million users.
  8. Off-Grid Electric: Using mobile phones for a pay-as-you-go service to electricity for families in extreme poverty. Electrifying over 1,000 homes with solar each month.
  9. Soko: Giving disadvantaged women and girl artisans in Africa the ability to sell directly to international customers through their mobile phones.
  10. Zoona:  Fastest growing and #1 mobile money operator in Zambia with a mission to help businesses grow.