Nomanini is a South Africa-founded payments platform that connects financial service providers and fast-moving consumer goods companies to consumers. Founded in 2011, Nomanini, which means ‘anytime’ in the ‘Siswati’ language, started out as a point-of-sale gadget distributor to retailers where they could be able to sell airtime to customers. It has since expanded to offer a wide range of financial services in Zambia, Kenya, and beyond.
Our team talked to Paul Nyamweya, Nomanini’s Regional Partnerships Manager for East Africa. He explained the evolution of Nomanini, challenges, and opportunities.
QN: It is more than 10 years since you came into existence: how has the journey been?
ANS: It has been great, full of growth and progress but not without challenges. Having started with just a point-of-sale gadget, eventually, we were able to develop a wide-labeled application where retailers could download the app and be able to provide the same service that the gadget was able to do. Over time, we have been able to expand and partner with banks such as Moza Banco in 2015 and Standard Bank in 2019 to provide solutions relevant to informal retailers. In 2021, we partnered with another bank and have been able to extend our presence to Zambia, Lesotho, Ivory Coast, and Tanzania and now rolling out in Kenya.
QN: What are your flagship services?
ANS: We offer a wide range of value-added services. Once a retailer is registered with us, you can be able to buy air time, electricity, pay bills; and for retailers, if we have a history of their transactions, they can get float loans.
The other one we are rolling out is the supply chain finance solution…where we partner with financial services providers and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies to provide what we call stock advances to informal retailers.
Then there is another one called Umoja, where we basically integrate with an aggregator where we buy airtime in bulk from mobile service providers and be able to cascade them down to retailers.
QN: How are the numbers looking like?
ANS: So far, cumulatively we are at about 15,000 retailers registered on the platform with over 3.3 million dollars in loans given to customers. We have processed over 42 million transactions so far.
QN: How are you ensuring gender equality and usability in service provision?
ANS: When you talk about informal trade retailers, many of them are actually women that run them. When you talk about small businesses like salons, barber shops, they are mainly run by youths. So, we are supporting a lot of them. Women and youth are the most vulnerable…When we support these businesses, they are the ones we help grow their businesses.
Our technology is advanced in terms of usability. Most of our transactions are real-time and in terms of KYC (Know-Your-Customer), we do elaborate KYC of at least what is relevant to what we need in terms of collecting customer information. Most of this information is protected because we sign Non-Disclosure Agreements so that we use it for what it must be used for.
QN: What is your assessment of FinTech in Kenya?
ANS: Kenya is considered a hotbed for FinTech. It is actually a global hub because of the pioneering work that has been done in this country such as M-Pesa and mobile penetration because most of these solutions are through the mobile phone. There are a lot of innovations in this country that have propelled the FinTech industry. So, there are massive opportunities not just in Kenya but across the region. A lot of innovators are creating their own mobile solutions or partnering with FinTechs so that they can be able to access more points of representation.
QN: How do you rate the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative and what can be improved?
ANS: The 40 days 40 FinTechs initiative is great because it creates awareness on what the FinTech ecosystem has to offer…We have made great steps but there is still a lot of ground to cover. If you are talking about 10 million informal retailers in Sub-Saharan Africa, this initiative is creating that awareness that these opportunities are there that can help small retailers and small businesses to take advantage to grow their businesses and change their lives.
What else can we do? …Actively bringing together the different players as well as investors, financial service providers, and the FMCG companies to talk and see how we can grow together.
Nomanini is the 43rd participant in this year’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs platform.
The initiative is run under HiPipo’s Include Everyone program that also encompasses other initiatives such as FinTech Landscape Exhibition, Women in FinTech Hackathon, Summit & Incubator and the Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit and Digital Impact Awards Africa.
Now in its third edition, #40Days40FinTechs has quickly grown into one of the world’s premier showcase events for the innovations that are enabling ever more people to join the digital economy space. That is surely going to remain the case, in large part due to the inspiration and collaboration that our partners; Level One Project, Mojaloop, ModusBox, and Crosslake Technologies generate, but mostly because of the continuing, generous support of the Gates Foundation.
The initiative offers participants useful tools and an introduction to the industry’s emerging technologies, such as Mojaloop Open Source Software, and guidance from Level One Project foundational material. The skills gained from this initiative cover Level One Project Principles, Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (IIPS), Inclusive Finance, and FinTech in general.
According to HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya, this year’s edition has cemented the achievements of the previous editions – where over 60 FinTechs have been transformed – but also building on them to leverage digital financial inclusion in East Africa and beyond.
“As HiPipo, our extensive effort and advocacy is partly for the intention of championing digital innovation and interoperable instant and inclusive payment systems (IIPS) in Africa to a point where our innovators enjoy and achieve sound profit margins to help them keep designing and deploying affordable and inclusive financial services for the poor,” Kawooya said.