Microfinance institution goes digital to educate migrant factory workers


The garment worker at Hlaing Tharyar township garment factory.Photo: Mizzima

On the heels of a new financial product designed specifically for factory workers in Yangon’s industrial zones, VisionFund Myanmar (VFM), the second largest microfinance institution in Myanmar, recently partnered with Opportunities NOW (ONOW), to launch ‘Mr.Finance VFM’ - a ground-breaking chatbot platform that provides user-friendly financial literacy to microfinance borrowers, VFM said in a statement.

The statement continues, the innovation takes advantage of Myanmar’s historic rise in smart phone adoption and clients’ eagerness for cutting-edge education. The partnership between VFM and ONOW reflects core beliefs that financial health must combine financial inclusion with financial literacy.

VisionFund Myanmar’s Chief Operations Officer Mr. Guerol Michael Sari said, “Client education is a key strength of our organization and a core part of our mission to bring financial services to underserved clients and communities in Myanmar. With ONOW we found a social partner, with whom we can give our clients additional access to financial education via Facebook messenger, which they can also share with other friends and colleagues. Client education is a key part of our technology strategy, which aims to support effective financial literacy.”

Opportunities NOW Co-founder and Executive Director Matt Wallace added, “We’re passionate about Financial Education that is emotionally engaging, timely, and simple. These are achieved through the first financial literacy chatbot platform in the world, Mr. Finance. We’re excited to partner with VisionFund Myanmar to bring these tools to thousands of microfinance clients, knowing VFM is a partner that is changing lives in the most difficult-to-reach parts of Myanmar. This combination of access-to-finance and digital-first financial literacy is an important step in that effort.”

Through ONOW’s chatbot platform ‘Mr. Finance VFM’, clients obtaining the factory worker loan will be able to learn about VFM’s financial products and procedures, complete interactive financial education training modules, and qualify for finance via certificates of completion verified by VFM officers.

The features of the platform are aimed at building resilience through interactive learning; from simple advice and practical steps on how to improve the user’s financial situation, to short and actionable reminders, and an interactive game that borrowers can relate to - where users help a woman along her business journey with business and financial management concepts taught along the way.

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