With years of experience in the boda boda business, Francis Edyel says that refuelling is one of the most painful things to a rider. On a given bad day, he would usually struggle to juggle between paying the bike owner, leaving some money at home for his family, and refuelling his motorcycle to start the day.
This was until he was introduced to Medmoo, a Financial Technology startup based in Lira that disburses micro-loans to boda-boda riders.
“I got the information from the manager of Medmoo that they can give me a fuel loan. I registered and got fuel and paid in the evening. MedMoo changed my work in a way that I get more customers because if my fuel is there, it’s easy for me to get more customers,” he says.
Edyel says that while the 10 percent interest on the fuel loans is a bit high, the idea of getting no-cash fuel every morning has made work easy.
“That fuel helps me a lot because when I get money, it can help me to feed my family and sometimes pay school fees for the children. There’s a challenge of interest rate – the thing with fuel, sometimes the price can go high. For instance, when they give us fuel for Shs 5,000 when paying back we add Shs 500. They should reduce the Shs 500 interest to at least Shs 250. There, it will be fair for us,” he says.
Edward Omara, another Lira City-based Boda Boda rider equally agrees to the transformative role of MedMoo, noting that even with the 10 per cent interest, the daily fuel loans enable them to start each work day with the focus on transporting customers and no worry about failure to complete trips due to fuel shortage. He notes that his Boda Boda job enables him to live a decent life and the MedMoo fuel loans are an enabler for this.
Boda Boda revolution.
Medmoo has been in operation since 2021, with its main operations in Lira City.
According to Denis Orech, the CEO and co-founder of MedMoo, within two years, they have been able to onboard over 1,600 riders, with more than 83 percent of them able to interface with the fuel loan product.
Orech explains that for anyone to register as a client for the fuel loan service, they must have a stage recognized by the boda chairmanship in that particular region or district.
“When we confirm that the stage is registered, we move to the stage and you must be a member of a particular stage. We come and sign you but your signing is co-signed by the stage chairmanship because most stages have leadership,” he says.
He notes that their main target is boda-boda riders because of their daily financial challenges. The fuel loans range from Shs 5,000 to Shs 20,000 which are payable within 24 hours.
About the interest of 10 percent, Orech says “This is a drop in the bucket compared to how much they can make in a day, especially for those doing town service.”
Despite this being a good initiative, Orech notes the lack of seed capital is delaying Medmoo’s growth beyond their locality to the national and regional levels.
“The other challenge is the low level of penetration of technology especially the gadgets that would be used to access our service,” he says.
He is however grateful for the contribution of the 40 days 40 FinTechs initiative organised by HiPipo to highlight unique stories by FinTechs in the East African region.
“The impact is quite tremendous given the exposure that has been given to us as a startup in Northern Uganda. We do recall that last year after our participation in the 40 Days 40 FinTechs, we were able to have access to a grant. A well-wisher gave us Shs 4m to facilitate our operations. This was purely a result of exposure by the 40 days 40 FinTechs,” he says.
Meanwhile, HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya says that the quick impact created by MedMoo is a testament to the opportunities available in the FinTech sector in Africa if we embrace targeted innovation.
“Our target is to include everyone. We need people like MedMoo who identify a common problem and come up with a convenient solution,” he said.
MedMoo is the 31st participant in this year’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative run by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner and Crosslake Technologies with generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Now in its fourth season, HiPipo’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative has become a household name in the financial technology space of the East African region. In the last three editions, more than 100 FinTechs have been showcased, highlighting stories changing people’s lives, especially in the under-served sectors.