LIBERIA: Lonestar Cell MTN and Give Directly Join Forces to Reduce Poverty in Maryland County

Lonestar Cell MTN partnered with Give Directly to lift over 22,000 impoverished residents in rural Maryland county out of poverty by installing ten cell phone towers to give residents access to network coverage, allowing Give Directly to enroll and financially empower residents.

The new cell phone towers linked to the Lonestar Cell MTN network will enable Give Directly, a non-profit organization, to provide cash transfers to residents in  rural Maryland county through the mobile money platform.   Residents will also have access to voice and data services on the network.

Give Directly identifies poor people and communities below the poverty line, usually in developing countries, and directly distributes unconditional cash via cellphone payments instead of the traditional aid sector donation approaches, like food. The strategic goal is to restore the recipient’s dignity, agency, and trust that they are best positioned to decide what is best for them and their families, financially.

“Mobile money bridges the gap in the financial sector. With the Lonestar Cell MTN network, digital payment processes enable Give Directly more efficiency with respect to registration and payment of eligible recipients.    These processes require stable network coverage with a good reception signal.  “With Mobile money, Give Directly pays recipients with a touch of a button,” said Operations Officer Bobby Lekpeye.

First of its kind, Give Directly launched the Universal Basic Income Program in Maryland County called the “Maryland UBI Program.” Under this program, Give Directly partnered with Lonestar Cell/MTN and funded the construction of 10 3G cellular network towers in hard-to-reach areas and in the most remote locations with no cellular network connectivity in  four districts:  Whojah, Nyorken, Gwelekpoken, and Karluway #1.

To ensure Mobile Money is the medium of transfer, Give Directly commissioned the construction of these towers to ease and reduce the burden on the Program Recipients to access their transfers and improve other basic social service needs, like communication.

“The money we provide enables residents to begin lifting themselves out of poverty with dignity because they become empowered and can choose for themselves what goods and services to purchase.  In this way, we are also ensuring that the local economy thrives,” said Give Directly Country Director Joseph J. Yarsiah.

He added that Give Directly partnered with Lonestar Cell MTN because of its well-established eco-system of mobile money merchants and agents to support residents’ purchasing and savings needs.

“This partnership with Give Directly enables Maryland residents to expand their lives. Financial digital inclusion of the unbanked is not just a national priority but an essential component of lifting up Liberians,” said Mobile Financial Services General Manager Chris Ssali

“The Give Directly cash transfers program helps lift rural Marylanders out of poverty. This initiative is a critical way Lonestar Cell MTN is leading digital solutions for Liberia’s progress,” he said.

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