Western Union’s Brian Harris on solving last-mile financing for NGOs

    Just about a year ago Western Union, the global payment services company, committed to developing a product designed especially for NGOs that would enable these global organizations to deliver cash to partners or beneficiaries on the ground, thereby overcoming the challenges of the “last mile.”

    Now, a year later, Brian Harris, the chief product officer of Western Union Business Solutions explained how the company approached the NGO GlobalPay system.

    “Philosophically we took the NGO as our customer, and we needed to understand what their problems were, what their pain points were,” he said. “I think we started out with this perception that it was just about moving funds. Really what we started to understand were the very specific use cases.”

    The system was then designed around the two greatest priorities – getting money to field workers in times of crises and supplying larger funds to support the communities they serve, Harris said.

    Western Union worked with 36 organizations in the pilot year of NGO GlobalPay and has now expanded to 60 countries. Harris said the system will be operational in 189 countries by the end of the year.

    Explore related content:

    • Talking social enterprises and partnerships at CGI

    • How USAID’s partners are transitioning to e-payments

    • The ‘last mile’ challenge: What NGOs need

    Join Devex, the largest online community for international development, to network with peers, discover talent and forge new partnerships - it’s free! Then sign up for the Devex Impact newsletter to receive cutting-edge news and analysis every month on the intersection of business and development. 

    About the author

    • Adva Saldinger

      Adva Saldinger is an Associate Editor at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.

    Join the Discussion