This profile was prepared when Brian Richardson was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Brian is empowering people in poor communities by giving them access to banking and lending services through his organization, WIZZIT. WIZZIT’s banking scheme enables individuals to conduct all their banking transactions via cell phone, giving previously un-banked members of the population easy and affordable access to banking services. In this way, WIZZIT is bringing the bank to the unbanked, as opposed to the other way around. WIZZIT’s cell phone banking platform works on any cellular phone network and with any cell phone, making it accessible to South Africa’s masses. WIZZIT banking makes financial transactions affordable to all its clients by employing a pay-as-you-go fee model that is more cost effective than traditional savings accounts and Mzanzi accounts (low-cost savings accounts) offered by South Africa’s large banks. And unlike those banks, WIZZIT does not charge a monthly banking fee as all the major banks do. WIZZIT’s model is also unique because in addition to enabling banking via cell phones, he offers financial literacy skills to his consumer base, as well as employment, for marketing agents nicknamed WIZZkids.