Fellow Portrait

Evelyn Namara

Vouch Digital


Digital vouchers changing the way government and aid organisation cash transfers are distributed

08. Decent Work and Economic Growth


Anglophone and Lusophone Africa





Local solutions for local problems

Opportunity often knocks when you least expect it. Evelyn Namara knows this all too well having conceived the concept for her business, Vouch Digital, after a conversation with a friend.

Evelyn’s friend discussed the struggles experienced with an inefficient system for distributing monetary aid to beneficiaries in Uganda’s agriculture sector. Many local institutions cannot keep track of how cash is used, and as a result, the cash is often unduly withheld by intermediaries, who may use it for purposes other than those for which it was intended. Using paper vouchers had also proved cumbersome for the beneficiaries and institutions and entailed a lengthy process for suppliers who have to wait to convert them into money.

As a graduate in Computer Science who had already worked with electronic payments in Uganda, Evelyn understood all of the pain points of the current system but disagreed with her friend’s conclusion that outsourcing to a foreign company able to handle electronic vouchers was the only answer: “Why outsource, when we can build home-grown solutions to solve our problems?”

Confident that she could simplify the flow of money from institutions to beneficiaries in agriculture and improve the welfare of communities, Evelyn founded Vouch Digital with the vision of using technology to increase efficiency and transparency in the distribution of monetary aid programmes.

I had a great understanding of the pain points of the electronic payment system in Uganda but when my friend suggested outsourcing this to another company I thought: ‘Why outsource, when we can build home grown solutions to solve our problems?’


Electronic vouchers to simplify and track results

Headquartered in Kampala, Uganda, Vouch Digital debuted its first product, the M-Voucher two years ago to facilitate subsidy distribution across Uganda. Thanks to the M-Voucher system, local farmers and suppliers of agricultural material can now redeem seed crops and post-harvest equipment, with access to the full amount of aid intended for them.

Vouch Digital's customers are segmented by development agencies running cash-based programs; government-led social protection programs, humanitarian projects as well as private sector cash-based programs seeking efficiency and transparency in the distribution of goods, items or services to beneficiaries. Vouch Digital's market is currently in the agriculture sector serving suppliers, agro-dealers and small-holder farmers but they are seeking to expand to other sectors such as healthcare and education.

Once in use, the M-Voucher collects data from beneficiaries to provide organisations with a comprehensive vision of how their programmes affect communities. It also allows agro-dealers and beneficiaries to receive instant payments for products redeemed.

I want everyone who thinks about digital technologies or digital platforms in Uganda to think Vouch Digital. If we can achieve that in Uganda, and even beyond Uganda, that would be the greatest achievement of mine.


Running a marathon and jumping at opportunities

Evelyn estimates that there are more than 500 programmes carried out annually, by both government and development agencies that use subsidies as a way of intervention. As potential customers for Vouch Digital, it is her hope that the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards will help her expand the business into a leading technology company that can provide digital solutions to problems beyond Uganda.

“I want anyone who thinks about digital technologies or digital platforms in Uganda to think Vouch Digital, and if we can do that in Uganda, and even beyond Uganda, that will be my biggest achievement.”

Running a business is like running a marathon, you have to prepare a lot before D-day but most importantly, you have to endure throughout the journey.