2020 news case study mpesa 883x432 1

Cambridge Judge Business School teaching case study is among The Case Centre’s best sellers for sixth year in a row

3 February 2020

The article at a glance

A case study on mobile money transfer developed at Cambridge Judge Business School is among The Case Centre‘s top 15 best-selling cases …

A case study on mobile money transfer developed at Cambridge Judge Business School is among The Case Centre‘s top 15 best-selling cases for the sixth year in a row. The Case Centre is a membership organisation that advances the case-study method worldwide.

M-Pesa mobile money transfer.
Mobile money transfer / Rosenfeld Media @ Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The case study focuses on M-Pesa, the mobile money transfer service developed by Cambridge-based Sagentia in collaboration with Vodafone.

M-Pesa is an excellent example of “bottom of the pyramid” innovation that proved to be successful in several emerging markets (Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan and South Africa). The case study traces its development, from initial funds set up by Vodafone and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to deliver banking services through mobile technologies to the rural poor, to its successful launch in several countries.

Through this case study, masters and MBA students have the possibility to explore the innovation process that Sagentia and Vodafone conducted to create and refine M-Pesa before and after its launch, and to reflect on the benefits and challenges of collaborative innovation in emerging economies with different cultures, regulations and infrastructure.

Michael Barrett.
Professor Michael Barrett

The case study was authored by Professor Michael Barrett of Cambridge Judge and by Dr Karl Prince, with the help of Dr Anna Kim, an MPhil and PhD student at Cambridge Judge. Dr Karl Prince worked in the Silicon Fen and was directly involved with Sagentia during the development and launch of M-Pesa. Dr Anna Kim was analysing Fairtrade in Kenya and Tanzania, so she could contribute on-the-ground knowledge about those contexts.

Michael Barrett, Professor of Information Systems & Innovation Studies at Cambridge Judge and Academic Director of Cambridge Digital Innovation, is an expert in digital innovation, and has conducted research on this topic in several companies and developing countries. Currently, he is working with the Global Challenges Research Fund of UK Research and Innovation on the evaluation of national grants concerned with Digital Innovation for Development in Africa.

The prolonged success of this case study demonstrates the strong advocacy by Cambridge Judge Business School of:

  • The power of the relevant and helpful insights for industry and students that emerge from the collaboration between researchers and practitioner organisations.
  • The opportunities to enhance our research and teaching that derive from interacting with the many inspiring Cambridge companies and the Silicon Fen.

The case study was developed in close collaboration with Sagentia and other organisations involved in the M-Pesa project including Vodafone and the Kenyan affiliate Safaricom, along with professionals with expertise in mobile finance in an emerging economy context. It also benefited from the expertise of the authors, who had direct engagement with the industry and context in which the M-Pesa idea flourished.