The smartphone industry has revolutionized many aspects of our lives. At the touch of a button, we can now communicate with people who are thousands of miles away. But perhaps the most revolutionary thing that this type of device has done for us, is to increase our economic growth. Why? Because the smartphone has facilitated trade in more ways than we can imagine. It has created rapport among trade parties and made communication much easier than ever before. Because of this, Safaricom has since launched “Lipa Na Mdogo Mdogo” which is a smartphone loan account that will allow consumers to pay for smartphones in instalments.
The project seeks to empower customers currently on 2G devices to upgrade and enjoy high-speed internet connectivity. Safaricom will now give qualifying customers easier access to the internet through the Lipa Mdogo Mdogo campaign where customers will be able to own a Neon Ray Pro, a 4G Android (Go edition) smartphone.
This initiative is in partnership with Google and has been dubbed as a first in the world, because of the unique delivery of the system. Speaking at the launch, Miss Mariam Abdullahi who is the Android and Platforms Partnerships for Africa, said that they wanted to make a smartphone as accessible as sukuma wiki.
Lipa Mdogo Mdogo allows a consumer to obtain the Neon Ray Pro, by paying a down payment of only 1,000 Kenya shillings and a subsequent 20 Kenya shillings every day for nine months. In the long run, the customers will have spent 6,500 Kenya shillings to obtain the phone. It is targeted at those who earn a daily wage.
Mr. Peter Ndegwa who is the C.E.O of Safaricom emphasized the need to leave no one behind. He sees the need to combine technology and investment while at the same time transforming lives.
Smartphones have played a major role in income generation in Kenya today. In fact, according to Mr. Ndegwa, there is a significant difference in income between those with and without smartphones. This is mainly attributed to the growth of online marketing and internet trading in our country today. The initiative aims to bridge this gap by enhancing the democratization of the internet for all Kenyans.
To be eligible for the Lipa Mdogo Mdogo service, you need to, first of all, be between 18-75 years of age. Secondly, you have to be a Safaricom subscriber for about a year. You also have the option of paying a huge chunk at once and then not having to pay for a while.
At the launch, there were customer testimonials by people who used the phone before its launch. Daniel, who owns a fruits and vegetable business. He says that through this phone, he now uses WhatsApp to make orders and deliveries. He can also take pictures of his stock for the customers so that they make informed decisions. Caleb Karoga, a farmer, has used his Smartphone to access Youtube and learn more about farming methods, as 18 well as teaching his peers what he has learnt.
You may be wondering what happens if you lose the device. Safaricom is working with the M-Pesa team to ensure that the customers remain liable for payment even though the phones get lost. Also, there is an insurance product related to this that will be coming out in the next few months so that if anything happens the owner can be assisted to get a new device.
If for one reason or another you are unable to pay for the phone, there will be a grace period of three days to catch up after which they will try to inquire about the delay. After this, the phone will be locked. Should you be in default on the 7th day, you will be barred from all outgoing calls and SMS. Where you default for thirty days, you will be blacklisted, be disqualified for subsequent device loan facilities and your details will be forwarded to CRB.
Interestingly, the phone also has special security features which make hacking nearly impossible. Safaricom, in partnership with Google, has put up systems and even tried and tested them, such that it will be hard for a person to use this phone after it has been locked due to defaulting payments or if it is stolen.
Signing up is pretty easy. All you have to do is to first check eligibility by first dialling *544# and then click on the device financing menu and check the qualification. Once you have found out whether you are eligible, you can visit a Safaricom store to fill in the documentation required and then you acquire the phone. Only people who are on 2G are eligible for Lipa Mdogo Mdogo.
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