Visa and NetHope Announce Five Grants Supporting Innovations in Rural Health, Smallholder Farming and Emergency Relief Payments

Funds will help leading development organizations speed disbursements while driving financial inclusion and lasting social impact

Tweet this: #InnovationGrants recipients announced by @VisaNews & @NetHope_org – 5 projects modernize development disbursements via #epayments

FOSTER CITY, Calif. & WASHINGTON--()--Visa Inc. (NYSE:V), the global payments technology company, and NetHope, a consortium of more than 40 humanitarian organizations, today announced the five recipients of the Visa Innovation Grants Program. The grants will help leading development organizations modernize the distribution of payments related to microfinance, agriculture, health, and emergency relief.

Every year, billions of dollars in cash payments are distributed to people in need through emergency relief efforts, benefit stipends, conditional cash transfers, microfinance programs, and other development initiatives. Digitizing these payments, through mobile phones or other electronic methods, not only improves security and speeds distribution, it also can promote financial inclusion by providing recipients access to broader financial services, including savings and electronic payments tools.

The group of five grantee organizations includes: Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), Freedom from Hunger, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Mercy Corps, and Pathfinder International.

“Around the world, humanitarian and development organizations are delivering important programs that are tackling poverty and helping improve lives,” said Douglas Sabo (@DSabo), head of Corporate Responsibility at Visa Inc. “We have heard the call from these organizations for assistance to modernize the way they distribute funds by shifting to electronic payments, allowing them to be even more efficient and effective. We are proud the Visa Innovation Grants Program can help enable this transition.”

Through the Visa Innovation Grants Program, Visa is awarding $500,000 in grants to increase the long-term impact of development programs through the innovation and adoption of electronic payments. The program is being delivered in partnership with NetHope, which fosters collaboration among leading international humanitarian organizations to address, create and implement scalable technology solutions to aid the developing world.

“We received submissions for Visa Innovation Grants from organizations working in a wide variety of sectors around the world, all of which are seeking better ways to deliver funds to the people who need them,” said Dr. William Brindley, executive director and CEO of NetHope. “The transition to electronic payments is an important driver of social and economic development, and we’re excited to be part of a program that is helping to create new models for the future.”

An Expert Advisory Committee of distinguished public and private sector leaders assisted in reviewing the more than 30 grant applications submitted. The committee included:

  • Nabeeha Mujeeb Kazi, managing director, Humanitas Global Development
  • Nick Maunder, humanitarian and development consultant
  • Eric Nee, managing editor, Stanford Social Innovation Review
  • Sarah Rotman, financial sector specialist, CGAP

“We saw an impressive array of ideas from applicants on how the use of electronic payments could improve the delivery and impact of development programs,” said Sarah Rotman, financial sector specialist at CGAP, and a member of the Expert Advisory Committee. “These recipients show particular promise to deliver game-changing ideas and scale across diverse sectors.”

Each of the grant recipients will put the Visa Innovation Grants funds to work in unique ways, designed to maximize the impact of the project’s stated focus area:

Agribusiness Systems International (ASI)

ASI will use the Visa Innovation Grant to bring formal financial services to rice farmers in Ghana. The program will extend branchless banking in rural areas by integrating mobile finance into the rice value chain. Mobile finance will reduce the risk of theft, connect farmers and other actors with financial services, and ensure timely payments to farmers. Founded in 1993 as an affiliate of ACDI/VOCA, ASI is a nonprofit consulting organization that helps smallholder farmers become competitive in the agribusiness sector.

Freedom from Hunger

Freedom from Hunger will use the Visa Innovation Grant to improve access to health services in rural Ecuador by integrating electronic payments for health services through local microfinance institutions that provide health savings and credit accounts. The program combines payment services with improved access to health services and education. Freedom from Hunger has more than six decades of experience fighting global poverty and hunger, as well as developing and testing flexible and sustainable approaches that provide group-based financial services, education and access to additional products and services to poor women and youth.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

IFRC, along with its partner American Red Cross, will use the Visa Innovation Grant to design and test a rapidly implementable and scalable electronic cash transfer system(s) with Red Cross National Societies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Electronic payments improve security and transparency of aid payments, enable families to begin their recovery in the shortest time possible and create a pathway to more formal financial services. The IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, acting before, during and after disasters and crises to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people.

Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps will use the Visa Innovation Grant to provide smallholder farmers in Indonesia with access to mobile money, improving their productivity and increasing incomes. The program’s scalable and replicable model connects banks, mobile network operators and a full range of stakeholders in the agricultural value chain, while also helping farmers gain the knowledge and tools they need for success. Mercy Corps is an international development organization that helps people around the world survive and thrive after conflict, crisis and natural disaster.

Pathfinder International

Pathfinder International will use the Visa Innovation Grant to introduce a mobile money-based payroll system for its community health workers in Kenya. The pay-for-performance incentive model will be combined with access to real-time field data, improving transparency and the quality of services delivered. Pathfinder International is a nonprofit organization with a focus on access to contraception; maternal and newborn health; and HIV and AIDS services. The organization has implemented projects in more than 100 countries worldwide, and is recognized for its innovative and responsive approaches to meeting health needs at the community level.

About NetHope

NetHope, Inc., founded in 2001, is a new-generation collaboration of the international community’s leading nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) representing over $40 billion (USD) of emergency relief, human development and conservation programs in more than 180 countries. Through member collaboration and by facilitating public-private partnerships with major technology companies, NetHope enables members to leverage their technology investments to better serve their end beneficiaries. For more information, visit

About Visa Inc.

Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions, and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments. We operate one of the world’s most advanced processing networks — VisaNet — that is capable of handling more than 30,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit


Paige Dearing, 301-717-1415
Visa Inc.
Robert Meloche, 650-432-4560


Paige Dearing, 301-717-1415
Visa Inc.
Robert Meloche, 650-432-4560