It is an unprecedented time, with the outbreak of COVID-19, entire cities and countries are going under the lockdown. Slowly, societies around the world are now trying to move towards normalcy. Nonetheless, the impact of lockdown on the economy may take years to recover. The wealth gap is more likely to increase as the lockdown has disproportionately affected the economy.
In the case of Nepal, the daily wage workers, public transportation, and even farmers continue to face the greater impact of lockdown. Governments, development organizations, and other impact funders have been providing monetary investment to assist economically disadvantaged groups during the lockdown period. This traction is likely to increase in the post-COVID scenario. However, some would argue that this economic support did not happen fast enough or did not reach the targeted populations. Tracking the fund in real-time to make sure it was all spent on the intended purpose is also a major issue.
Our company, Aeloi Technologies (www.aeloi.com), has built a system that can monitor financial transactions to ensure that the funds have been used for the intended purpose through the digital token, in real-time, without having high monitoring and evaluation cost. Using our system, the fund will be sent through an SMS and can only be spent at pre-approved vendors such as for inputs or business planning training etc. Who received how much money? Where and how much was it spent? In this way, our tracking process would not only help to make sure the funds reach in the hands of the intended population but would also be able to ensure that the fund is used for the impact it was intended for. We are using an SMS system, so the users can easily access our technology without a smartphone or internet. If such systems are put in place sooner, this can make faster transaction processing in times of crisis and during the recovery phase (especially in cases like COVID-19) where mobility is restricted.
Aeloi is also working to help provide access to affordable financial services to support increased inclusion and financial health. By monitoring the end-use of business microfinance loans, we help to lower the lending risk for microfinance organizations, thus leading to lower interest rates in the long term. By connecting microentrepreneurs to reliable vendors and financial institutions, we are helping build a strong ecosystem. The introduction of digital finances in the long term is essential to reducing the impact of future financial crises because it enables faster and transparent policy responses.
Currently, we are working with farmers from Kispang, Nuwakot and Safa Tempo drivers from Kathmandu to provide business loans. In order to ease the loan interest for borrowers (which many at the time are having trouble to pay due to the pandemic) we are launching a COVID Response Impact Fund, managed by our digital token system. The purpose of the fund is to stimulate economic recovery from the impact of COVID on the livelihoods of informal sector microentrepreneurs thus will be used to subsidize loan interests. The subsidies will be monitored using Aeloi’s system by issuing loans in digital token form through our partnering microfinance institution.
Furthermore, in order to diversify the income source for the farmers and safa tempo drivers we are working to connect farms to urban entrepreneurs creating a strong local value chain, extending the services of safa tempos for delivery of products and services in particular from e-businesses including deliveries of vegetables from farm to the market. With these steps, we at Aeloi Technologies take this crisis as an opportunity and believe our technology and service would be able to cushion the economic impact of the COVID.