Project Details

An African mother cradling her baby


Helping Kenyan women to save money for care during pregnancy and birth.

By Multiple Choices Labs

Project URL:

  • Community Engagement
  • Health
  • Data
  • Mobile

Women in Kenya, especially those whose families earn less than $2 a day, face unenviable choices when they are pregnant. Relying on public services puts them in the hands of a chronically under-funded healthcare system with long queues for poor services. Many turn to local healers with few qualifications who struggle to cope with a complicated birth.

The innovative Jacaranda Clinics designed Mamakiba to change this, by turning mobile phones into a savings tool for women who are pregnant. Mamakiba’s goal is to make sure that a Kenyan mother from a poor household has enough money to be able to have her baby delivered in a decent clinic, reducing the risk to both mother and child.

Visiting Jacaranda, a mother will first create an electronic health record which will give her the option to open a Mamakiba account. This installs a savings calculator on her phone, which calculates the amount she has to save each week to reach a savings goal she has set, depending on her income and the number of ante-natal consultations she wants.

When the mother returns home, she begins to receive alerts reminding her to start saving the calculated amount at the start of the specified period. Other alerts tell her to save the amount needed before each consultation. Using Mpesa – another important mobile innovation – the mobile money transfer system, used by more than 17 million Kenyans, she makes the deposit into an account to prepay for her services. Any surplus funds can be transferred back to her Mpesa account or used for post-natal care.

Mamakiba was trialled in the vast slums of Eastern Nairobi and used by more than 13,000 women in its first 18 months of operation. Mamakiba is adapting Mpesa to create a health insurance plan for women who cannot afford expensive healthcare. By helping to teach saving and budget planning it is providing a potentially life-saving service for the mother and the child.

Image 'Mother with child at maternity clinic' courtesy of USAID Africa Bureau

Last updated: 09th of May, 2014

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