Participants introduced to Financial Inclusion Best Practices as the 2023 Women in FinTech Hackathon kicks off in Kampala.

The 2023 Women in FinTech Hackathon has kicked off in Kampala with a formidable group of thirty (30) teams, hailing from Uganda and Kenya. This esteemed selection of participants was carefully curated from a competitive pool of over 100 innovative submissions received over the past two months.

From 10th to 17th August, the 30 teams will ideate, and develop Financial Inclusion innovations spanning a wide range of sectors such as Payments, Savings & Loans, E-commerce, E-Health, Fundraising, AgriTech, E-Insurance and Remittances.

On day one, the over 100 innovators were able to work on their Problem Statements and Business Cases.

Charlotte Neeza, the HiPipo FinTech Events Manager, explained that the Women in FinTech Hackathon is a timely intervention aimed at closing the gender diversity gap in the Technology Industry.

“Gender diversity in the tech industry is low with Men holding over 74 per cent of the Technology jobs. They also account for at least 79 per cent of the executive roles in the Tech Industry. This can only be closed by equipping more women with the required skills and resources to compete favourably. The Women in FinTech Hackathon is exactly doing this. We don’t only train the participants but also connect them to mentors and potential Investors,” Neeza noted.

Cleopatra Kanyunyuzi, the Hackathon Lead Facilitator and CEO of Club Tangaza guided the teams through crucial steps to be followed when defining a problem statement and working on a business case. She noted that innovations are bound to fail if they are not solving a specific and clear societal problem.

“Clearly define the problem you want your Fintech solution to solve. This should be a specific pain point or challenge faced by your target users. Validate the problem through interviews, surveys, and data analysis to ensure that it is a real and significant issue that your potential customers are facing,” Kanyunyuzi explained.    

Olga Naiga, a Strategic Business Planning Expert was Day-One’s Mentor and focused her presentation on Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“Design thinking is pivotal in a women-led FinTech; combining innovation and user-centricity. Design thinking fosters collaboration, ensuring that multifaceted perspectives contribute to cohesive, inclusive Fintech products. This approach also streamlines problem-solving, iteratively refining prototypes based on user feedback,” Naiga noted; adding: 

“In the dynamic realm of FinTech, where women remain underrepresented, design thinking empowers female developers to challenge conventions and develop solutions that resonate, effectively bridging the gender gap and delivering financial tools that cater for the diverse spectrum of women’s needs and aspirations.”

The participants were also introduced to Level One Project Principles, Mojaloop Open Source Software and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.

The Level One Project introductions were done by Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO and George Kasakya, the HiPipo Tech lead while the Mojaloop Introduction was delivered by Paul Baker, the Principle Product Manager INFITX and member of the Mojaloop Community Council.

In his presentation, Baker noted that Mojaloop is a level one aligned payments hub, that is designed to support financial inclusion.

Mojaloop was designed to provide a reference model for payment interoperability, that can be used to overcome barriers that have slowed the spread of digital financial services. Whole, adapted, or as a blueprint – the Mojaloop Foundation’s open source software can be used by organizations to build interoperable, digital payment systems that enable seamless, affordable financial services between individual users, banks, government entities, merchants, mobile network operators, providers, and technology companies – connecting the underserved with the emerging digital economy.

Running for the 4th consecutive year, this Hackathon is part of HiPipo’s broader Women in Fintech initiative that also includes a Summit and Incubator program.

The 2023 Women in FinTech Hackathon will culminate in the Women in FinTech summit on 18th August 2023 where the best-performing teams and individuals will be announced and receive their share of the USD 10,000 collective prize money. This will be in addition to the winners automatically qualifying for the Women in FinTech Incubator program that will run from September until December 2023.

The Women in FinTech Hackathon is implemented by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Crosslake Technologies and Ideation Corner and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

30 Teams shortlisted for the 2023 HiPipo Women in FinTech Hackathon

A formidable group of thirty (30) teams, hailing from Uganda and Kenya, has been shortlisted for this year’s Women in FinTech Hackathon. This esteemed selection was carefully curated from a competitive pool of over 100 innovative submissions received over the past two months.

The distinguished shortlist of teams will now gather in the vibrant city of Kampala from August 10th to 17th, 2023. This announcement marks the exciting commencement of the team’s journey, aimed at transforming their pitched ideas into groundbreaking financial technology products and solutions. Their innovative focus spans a wide range of sectors, including but not limited to Payments, Savings & Loans, E-commerce, E-Health, Fundraising, AgriTech, E-Insurance, and Remittances.

As she announced the successful completion of the registration process, Charlotte Neeza, the FinTech Events Manager at HiPipo, highlighted the great surge in enthusiasm and a steadfast will to innovate as key factors contributing to the Hackathon’s growing popularity over the last three years. Recognizing this burgeoning interest, the decision was made to expand the 2023 edition’s scope to include thirty teams, a substantial 50% increase from the twenty teams that participated in the 2022 event.

“We are thrilled to introduce the participants of this year’s Women in FinTech Hackathon. The growth from 2021 to last year’s count of 20 teams was remarkable, and this year, we have broadened our horizon further with 30 teams selected from nearly 100 submissions. This consistent advancement is a testament to the trust and faith that young innovators place in this project. The triumphs of past contestants in areas such as mentorship, product design, development & go-to-market strategies, and seed capital acquisition continue to fuel inspiration among both returning and new participants,” explained Neeza with evident pride and belief.

She continued with eagerness, “For the fortunate 30 teams, this Hackathon is not merely a competition but a luminous platform to showcase your potential, revolutionize your lives, and make a lasting impact on your communities. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all teams that demonstrated their interest and initiative by submitting their innovative propositions. To those who haven’t made the shortlist, let this not deter your spirit or ambition. Continue to chase your dreams with determination, for there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel.”

Neeza emphatically disclosed that every team in this year’s competition is characterized by both women-driven leadership and a majority of women members, underscoring a commitment to empowering and spotlighting female innovators in the field.

“An inspiring 70 percent of the participants in this initiative are women, and I’m proud to affirm that every single team is guided by a female leader.”

Now in its impressive fourth consecutive year, this Hackathon stands as a vital component of HiPipo’s expansive Women in FinTech initiative. Beyond the competition, the initiative encompasses a comprehensive suite of programs including a thought-provoking Summit and a nurturing Incubator program, all aimed at fostering innovation and empowerment in the field of financial technology.

The Women in FinTech Initiative is a bold and strategic effort aimed at dismantling gender disparities within the financial technology industry. Through comprehensive empowerment, the initiative equips women with essential digital and financial inclusion skills, enabling them to innovate, thrive, and succeed. It’s more than personal growth; it’s a pathway for these women to prosper financially, foster development within their families, and contribute positively to the broader community, creating a ripple effect of change and advancement.

The fundamental mission of this initiative is to actively advocate for women’s financial inclusion by fostering their engagement in the creation, development, and deployment of financial technology products that are thoughtfully designed to serve not only women but society at large. The HiPipo Women in FinTech initiative stands as an extraordinary force, earnestly supporting and amplifying efforts to bridge the Gender Gap in Access to Technology. It’s a movement that resonates far beyond mere participation, extending into the realms of skill-building and the practical utilization of Digital Financial Services, thus reshaping the landscape of inclusion and empowerment.

From 2020 to 2022, the multifaceted Women in FinTech initiative – encompassing the Hackathon, Summit, and Incubator project – has drawn the engagement of over 4,000 participants and has directly imparted essential training to more than 300 women. Through rigorous and tailored mentorship, a significant number of these women have emerged as qualified Software Engineers and Computer Science specialists. Their achievements transcend the classroom, with some having conceived, engineered, and introduced Financial Technology products that are actively reshaping their communities. Others have garnered seed capital from both the project itself and benevolent external contributors, propelling them further along the path to realizing their dreams. This is not merely an initiative; it’s a catalyst for change, innovation, and empowerment.

This remarkable success story is a manifestation of HiPipo’s insightful and relentless dedication to Women Empowerment and Inclusion, fortified by the steadfast commitment, collaborative synergy, and active engagement of its eminent partners: Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner, and Crosslake Technologies. Yet, it’s essential to recognize that all these groundbreaking achievements could have remained a mere aspiration without the magnanimous support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Their generous backing is the linchpin that transformed this visionary endeavour from a possibility into a thriving reality, creating a legacy of empowerment and innovation.

Prize Money.

The 2023 Women in FinTech Hackathon will reach its zenith at the Women in FinTech Summit on 18th August 2023, a grand occasion where excellence will be celebrated.

The best-performing teams and standout individuals will be recognized and duly rewarded, sharing in the collective prize money of USD 10,000. But the rewards extend beyond mere financial gain; the victorious winners will automatically earn a coveted place in the Women in FinTech Incubator program, scheduled to run from September to December 2023. This is not merely a competition but a launchpad to greatness, offering not only recognition and financial rewards but a pathway to further innovation, growth, and success within the dynamic field of financial technology.

Below are the 30 shortlisted Teams and their Leaders.

FinHubNankunda Josephine
Kampus Wash-up CafeAuma Eunice
PesajetAngella Kansemiire
CyanasePatricia Giramia
OpportuneGum Priscilla
WashUpNakanwagi Evelyne
Maamas Daily CookieSauda Nassanga
U – PayAbitegeka Bridget
Virtual Mothercare AssistantNyirarukundo Novitah
E – CareChristine Amutuhaire
Elite CompanyMutesi Patricia
MindSpaceRacheal Olive Kawudha
Rent Easy PeasyStisha Margret Amase
Financial Education Platform for Women (FEP-W)Tumuhimbise Evas
INFITX Empowerment HubFortune Agnes Tusiime
E-FuelYasmin Hassan
Safe and FreeHappy Amooti
HPaysaBeth Njoroge
AgamNakisozi Mastulah Sarah
SheCapitalAyebale Allen
TaxOnPointKiyiga Marion Olivea
Smart Rental SystemAngella Mulikatete
FloreXpressElizabeth Ashley Aceng
The AchieversJariat Nabakooza
Simbula Tugende Limited (STL)Nansumba Mary Vanessa
BorePayDiana Najjuma
Hands of Women FoundationAnena Jennifer
Business Banking HubSunita Namujumbi
Game ChangersSarah Agemo
Online KataleTricia Wambua

Join the Celebration of a Decade of Digital Excellence: Submit your Nomination for the 2023 Digital Impact Awards Africa Now

Kampala, Uganda. In 2014, HiPipo unveiled the Digital Impact Awards Africa (DIAA), a prestigious platform dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the epitome of African innovation in digital technology, financial inclusion, and cybersecurity advancement.

From its inception, the Digital Impact Awards Africa (DIAA) was met with immense enthusiasm, with the majority of the market recognizing it as an initiative poised to elevate the industry to new heights. Despite this optimism, questions were raised about its sustainability. Skeptics drew parallels with earlier initiatives that, like the DIAA, began with considerable market excitement, only to fade away prematurely. Yet, the DIAA has persevered, defying these predictions and cementing its role in leading the industry’s progress.

Indeed, the Digital Impact Awards Africa (DIAA) has not merely weathered the passage of time, but it has significantly transformed Africa’s trajectory in digital and financial inclusion. With each passing year, the DIAA continues to make groundbreaking strides, redefining expectations and leading the charge towards a digitally inclusive future for all of Africa.

Innocent Kawooya, the CEO of HiPipo, expressed his feelings of anticipation and accomplishment, saying, “From the inception of our journey, we held a vision to significantly contribute to Africa’s digital and financial inclusion journey. We aimed to not only spotlighting the innovative products and services that are transforming millions of lives but also to honor the remarkable individuals behind these achievements. Today, we stand at the dawn of a decade that has witnessed this vision come to life. Our accomplishments fill us with pride, yet our eyes are firmly set on the future, committed to scaling new heights. We acknowledge that the road to universal digital and financial inclusion requires relentless efforts. In this pursuit, we have been fortunate to have the unwavering support of dedicated partners like the Gates Foundation, whose contributions have been instrumental to our progress. As we move forward, we pledge to continue making strides towards a digitally inclusive future for Africa.”

Kawooya further expressed his gratitude, stating: “Our sincere appreciation goes out to the over 500 companies that have engaged in this initiative over the years, collectively fueling its success. We wish to extend a special commendation to our invaluable partners whose faith in this endeavor has been unwavering. This remarkable milestone is a testament to your belief in our mission, and we simply could not have reached this point without your steadfast support.”

Celebrating a decade of transformation, the 10th edition of the Digital Impact Awards Africa is slated for 17th November 2023 at Kampala Serena Hotel as part of the annual Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit.

Digital Impact Awards Africa is a platform that promotes Digital Inclusion, Financial Inclusion, and Cyber Security. The Awards recognize and celebrate stakeholders that are spearheading the use of digital mediums to serve communities. They further celebrate digital excellence across the continent; big or small, local or international.

On the other hand, the Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit explores strategic trends and technologies that are shaping the future of Digital, ICTs, and Business. Special attention is paid to the safety of customers’ funds and the security of platforms in the Digital Financial Services ecosystem.

The 2023 summit will bring together hundreds of delegates including C-Level executives that are spearheading the scaling, adoption, and usage of digital and financial services across Africa, policymakers, young entrepreneurs, and innovators in the Digital and Financial Inclusion ecosystem. The summit will shine a spotlight on how businesses have recovered from the disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Cyber Security threats among other topics.

It will have more than 50 speakers from government, multinationals, large enterprises, small and mid-sized enterprises, and start-ups. Additionally, the summit will offer a platform for informal businesses (like market vendors, smallholder farmers, sole proprietors, public transporters, e-commerce delivery agents, etc.)   

Both the Digital Impact Awards Africa and Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit are organized by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner, and Crosslake Technologies and generously supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Submit your #DIAA2023 nominations today.

With an air of anticipation and excitement, we officially embark on the journey towards the 2023 Digital Impact Awards Africa, beginning with an open call for nominations. Join us in recognizing and celebrating those who are boldly shaping the digital landscape of Africa.

This call marks the start of a comprehensive Digital Impact Awards Africa entry submission and validation process that will run until October 10th, 2023. This will be followed by the release of a list of nominees, Jury assessment, and a rollout of public voting from October 17th until November 17th when the grand finale will be held.

List of categories open for nomination:

  1. Financial Inclusion Excellence
  2. Digital Banking Excellence
  3. Banking Innovation Excellence
  4. Community/MFI Banking Innovation Excellence
  5. FinTech Innovation Excellence
  6. Financial Services Digital Excellence
  7. Consumer Goods Digital Excellence
  8. Utilities and Government Services Digital Excellence
  9. Technology Services Digital Excellence
  10. Digital Campaign Excellence
  11. CEO of the Year
  12. Digital Brand of the Year
  13. Digital Brand of the Decade – 2014 to 2023
  14. Community Digital Empowerment Excellence

Visit to submit your nomination.

Both the summit and awards are using these 3 official tags; #IncludeEveryone #DIAA2023 #LevelOneProject.

2023 FinTech Landscape Exhibition: Stakeholders commit to including the under-served Population

The 2023 FinTech Landscape Exhibition was successfully held on Thursday 6th July, attracting over 300 participants including Government policymakers, Tech Giants, Financial services providers and more than 40 participating FinTechs.

The FinTech Landscape Exhibition was the climax event of this year’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative which featured 43 companies from Uganda and Kenya between 7th May and June 23rd.

It was highlighted by the different companies that showcased their financial inclusion solutions in areas such as payments, e-commerce, savings & credit, e-insurance, digital healthcare, and e-education among others.

The exhibition was spiced up with four-panel discussions that expounded on key financial inclusion topics namely; Delivering affordable financial products to poor and vulnerable groups using FinTech, Introducing the unbanked Women and Youth to the formal financial inclusion ecosystem with FinTech, Encouraging transactional account usage using FinTech intuitive mobile apps and USSD-based innovations and Modernizing lending models and improving affordable and timely credit with FinTech. This was in addition to an open public discussion about How to use FinTech to bank the unbanked population and banking opportunities for SMEs.

Both the 2023 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative and the FinTech Landscape Exhibition were organized by HiPipo in partnership with the Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Ideation Corner, Cyberplc Academy, and Crosslake Technologies with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO noted that this annual activity continues to positively impact Uganda and Africa’s financial inclusion revolution by offering Innovators a fair chance to not only showcase their solutions but to also discuss key issues affecting the industry.

“For the past three years, we have been discussing the need for Uganda to have a national payment switch. This has been a key topic in the past three editions of the FinTech Landscape Exhibition. I am glad to report that recently; the Bank of Uganda announced the kick-off of the bidding process for the Provision of a Bank of Uganda National Payments Switch (BNPS). This shows that our efforts are not in vain; our voices are being heard and action is being taken to address the issues we raise,” Kawooya noted.

Government commits to addressing Internet and Network issues.

ICT state minister Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo, who was the 2023 FinTech Landscape Exhibition chief guest acknowledged HiPipo’s contribution to Uganda’s digital and financial inclusion journey, noting that through such events, innovators’ ideas and solutions are showcased and their efforts vindicated.

She said that digital payments will benefit from accessible and affordable Internet, noting that as the Ministry of ICT, they were working with other government agencies, donors, private investors and innovators to make the Internet cheaper, reliable and readily available across the country.

Further, James Beronda, the Head of Technical Services at Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) noted that the commission is working with the telecoms and other partners such as World Bank to address network and connectivity problems that continue to disrupt the adoption and consistent usage of digital solutions mainly in rural and sparsely populated areas. HiPipo patron, also a member of parliament for Kigorobya county, Hon David Karubanga applauded this year’s participants for their effort in enhancing financial inclusion. He reiterated HiPipo’s commitment to Uganda and Africa’s complete digitization.

HiPipo Secures Best Financial Inclusion Organisation Award for the Second Year: Strengthening Commitment to Fintech Innovation and Inclusivity in East Africa.

We are thrilled to announce that, for the second year running, HiPipo has been honoured with the prestigious accolade of ‘Best Financial Inclusion Organization 2023 – East Africa’ at the seventh annual FinTech Awards, organised by Wealth & Finance International.

Wealth & Finance International, renowned for celebrating outstanding achievements within the finance and investment industry, has underscored our transformative impact. As FinTech revolutionises the world around us, becoming integral to society’s digital fabric, Wealth & Finance International recognises the significance of businesses like ours that are leading the charge towards an inclusive financial future.

In the dynamic landscape of FinTech, staying innovative and one step ahead is vital. As an industry leader, we’re both navigating and shaping this evolution, contributing to a predicted industry valuation of $174 billion this year alone. The journey is exhilarating, and the accolades we receive from respected institutions like Wealth and Finance International only strengthen our resolve.

The award celebrates the homegrown leaders in FinTech who are instrumental in propelling efforts towards complete financial inclusion across continents. Our CEO, Innocent Kawooya, expressed his appreciation for this recognition, saying, ‘This award is a testament to the extraordinary team behind HiPipo. Their dedication and relentless effort made this possible.’

He further emphasized the integral role of our supportive partners in shaping our success, mentioning the Gates Foundation, Cyberplc Academy, Level One Project, INFITX, Ideation Corner, Crosslakes Technologies, and the Mojaloop Foundation. ‘This honour belongs to all of us and serves as a catalyst for our future endeavours,’ Innocent declared.

2023 has already proved a fruitful year for HiPipo. Under Innocent’s leadership, we’ve continued to champion the adoption and propagation of FinTech as a means of enhancing financial inclusion for the underserved and unserved.

Our successful initiatives this year include the 4th 40 Days 40 FinTechs & FinTech Landscape Exhibition, the 4th Women-in-FinTech Hackathon & Summit, the Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit, and the Digital Impact Awards Africa. Notably, our Women-in-FinTech Incubator remains a symbol of our steadfast commitment to empowering women in the digital technology space.

‘Empowering women with the knowledge and tools needed to launch successful tech initiatives is a priority for us,’ said Innocent, ‘their contributions serve communities better and help drive us towards a more inclusive future.’

Once again, we express our heartfelt gratitude for this recognition and pledge to continue working relentlessly to broaden the scope of financial inclusion in East Africa and beyond.

Malticard has digitized business cards, tickets management and schools pick-ups

On average, corporate organizations spend at least Shs 80,000 annually on every employer to buy paper cards, popularly known as business cards. Sadly, when these people go out to network and give out paper cards, most of these cards end up in one’s pockets or laundry baskets the following day.

It’s against this background that Joshua Mulwana, through his digital agency called Malticard, innovated a digital business card that uses near-field communication where you just tap it on one’s phone and you share your contact details with them.

Mulwana says that with this card, you do not need a cardholder or to move with countless business cards because it can help you transfer contacts digitally.

“Our card is more than a business card. It is an access control card. The same card can be used for accessing the office by clocking in and out or working as a company ID. Some people are rigid and want to stay with their old systems. We want to change that,” Mulwana explains.

He further adds that while business penetration has been a big challenge, they have managed to get more than 1,200 customers to subscribe to this card. Anyone interested in this card just logs onto and signs up to create an account.

“When we receive your request,  we call you and ask for your business details such as a logo…If you have a logo, we ask for it and if it’s not good, we improve it. We give you a copy of the sample and if you give it a green light, we produce and deliver it for free,” says.

“Our card goes for Shs 45,000. It comes with one month’s subscription and afterwards, you begin paying Shs 1,000 monthly or Shs 12,000 annually via your account through mobile money or a bank card,” he adds.

Besides the digital business card, Mulwana says that they also have Smart Wallets that prevent people from fraudsters copying information off their credit cards.

“We also have School Time that helps to keep track of who has picked a child from school.  Then there is a ticketing system that we install at stadiums to help keep track of the funds [from] match-day ticketing. We are currently working with KCCA FC,” he says.

With over 3,000 subscribers to their products, Mulwana says the future looks bright. He is, however, concerned about the reluctance by corporate organisations to embrace digital systems.

He also highlights operational funds as a limit to their growth.

“Like any other startup, operational funds limit the way you are going to spread out to new organizations. The number of smartphones among Ugandans is increasing and it is a plus for us. However, on the other end, data bundles are expensive compared to our neighbours like Rwanda and Tanzania. This limits internet usage yet most of our innovations require internet to access them,” he says.

He however commends telecom companies and phone companies for creating cheap smartphones that are fairly accessible to ordinary populations. On integration, Mulwana says they have tried to work with telecoms but they remain very bureaucratic yet it is easier to work with other payment gateways like Flutterwave. He sends special thanks to HiPipo for giving startups a space where they can easily get known by other people, learn and further improve their innovations.

PesaLink facilitates over 500,000 transactions a month. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 42

Not long ago, the only way through which someone could transfer money from one bank account to another was through a cheque or an electronic funds transfer (EFT). These two processes are not only slow, they are also tedious, error-prone and require multiple layers of verification.

But through technology and innovation, financial services providers have rapidly progressed to more advanced digital money transfer services such as mobile and online banking.

One such service provider is PesaLink, a Kenyan-founded real-time payments platform linking mobile and online transfers by thousands of bank and telecom customers.

According to Gituku Kirika, the CEO of PesaLink, this platform has transformed inter-bank and intra-bank transfers by ensuring efficiency, timeliness and convenience.

With PesaLink, bank customers can access and transfer resources using banks’ mobile and online banking platforms as well as USSD. It’s the same thing with telecoms as well.

“When a client logs into PesaLink, they are required to enter the recipient’s bank account number or their mobile phone number. We are able to map it against their bank account and as soon as the consumer confirms that this is the recipient, then we complete the transaction,” he says.

“Being a real-time system, funds get credited into a recipient’s accounts instantly and therefore providing efficiency to consumers who require transacting any time any day,” he adds.

Great impact.

With more than six million registered users, PesaLink can ably be called a champion of real-time payments in Kenya.

According to Faisal Omar, the Chief Product Officer at PesaLink, the platform boasts 500,000 transactions per month and about 16 million transactions since inception, with a transaction value of close to two trillion Kenya shillings between banks.

“We are now building a PesaLink wallet which will allow players to offer this as a service to their customers. This will open up many use cases such as merchant payment, point-of-sale payments, and also allow customers to do low-value transactions at a cheaper cost,” he says.

“Secondly, we are looking at developing an ecosystem that allows our customers to have a unique identifier. The problem we have today is that customers need to share the account number to receive payments…now we want to facilitate building aliases so that customers can send money to an email address or phone number,” he adds.

Omar argues that the idea behind this is to try and make the payment experience as frictionless as possible, regardless of which channel the customer is using.

“To enable this functionality, we need to build our own service channels. Because, we will need the facility for customers to be able to engage with us, download receipts, look at past transactions, look at their linkage with banks so, we are building products where customers can be able to interface with us directly,” he adds.


Meanwhile, George Murage, the Chief Technology and Operations Officer at PesaLink, notes that the past few years have seen more specialization in the East African FinTech industry, which is a good sign of proper service delivery.

“About a decade ago, players were trying to do everything in the FinTech space (aggregation, switching, lending) but now what we are seeing is a lot of players that are specializing in one of these areas,” he says.

On top of this, Murage says that regulation has greatly improved with more support, especially in the risk control measures.

He is also happy with the organizers of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative which is helping to promote the services of FinTechs to the entire world.

“I do believe that getting the word out is very important and highlighting the fact that the FinTech space is very heterogeneous in nature. There are a lot of services at play,” he says, noting that FinTechs will soon be at the centre of business transactions in sub-Saharan Africa.

“A lot of our value chains are still cash-heavy but FinTechs are blazing the trail in digitizing these value chains which will enable them to be easier and flexible for people to transact on mobile platforms,” he says.

PesaLink is the 42nd participant in this year’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative run by HiPipo in partnership with the Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner and Crosslake Technologies with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It shines a light on innovations that are changing lives for underserved communities. 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.

Little App Surpasses One Million User Milestone in Kenya. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 41

Steve Wanderi, a dedicated taxi driver from Kenya, recently adopted Little Cab, a digital ride-hailing service, in his quest to enhance the quality of his services. This decision has brought about remarkable transformations in his professional life.

Wanderi notes that the biggest challenge for any cab driver is the lack of consistent clientele – but Little has solved this problem for him.

“The Little APP is impressive. You can’t stay in an area without getting a client. Most of the time, you get a client and are fully compensated for your time,” he says of Little, a Kenyan transport and logistics solution jointly founded in 2016 by tech giants Craft Silicon and Safaricom. Little Cab has nascent operations in other East African countries and hopes to expand beyond the region.

Wanderi is happy that with Little’s mobile application, a cab driver can get paid instantly without waiting for days or weeks to cash out.

“They calculate every minute you spend on the ride. Even if you are stuck in traffic, your hours are compensated. We appreciate them for that,” he says.

One-stop App.

Nyawira Maina, the country corporate manager for Little Limited, says that besides providing excellent mobility services, Little has morphed into a one-stop app where clients can access extra services such as deliveries, entertainment, payments, and healthcare.

“We have a variety of products ranging from both retail and corporate. From a retail perspective, clients can enjoy aspects such as ordering groceries, paying utility bills and ordering a ride and delivery. On the Corporate front, we have multiple items and services. Companies can be able to order taxis, staff shuttles, courier services, and logistics which is a bigger vehicle category,” she says.

Maina says that the unique part about Little is the fact that every service is digitized.

“The other innovation that we added is for companies that have their own fleet of vehicles, we can sell to them something that is known as SAS (software as service) for them to manage their fleet using Little technology,” she explains

Within seven years of operation, Little currently serves up to 1,900 companies and more than one million people in Kenya alone.

“Out of 42 banks in Kenya, we serve at least 39 and are privileged of having the largest employer in the country which is KRA (Kenya Revenue Authority),” she says.

Operational bottlenecks.

Maina says that for any ride-hailing service provider to thrive, they need a strong infrastructure. Unfortunately, both mobile and internet penetration in the East African region is still undesirable.

“In Kenya, we are privileged to have a 92 percent penetration unlike in other East African countries where penetration is still low. Accessibility to technology does not come cheap in reference to the purchase of data. This makes it a little bit hard for people,” she says.

Meanwhile, Kamal Budhabhatti, the Founder and Group CEO at Craft Silicon and Little, ranks scaling as the biggest challenge faced by young FinTechs.

“Beginning modestly with just a handful of clients, the demand for scaling arises as these clients start to embrace the new technology. Prior to the advent of COVID-19, there was a certain hesitance towards the uptake of new FinTech technologies. However, the pandemic has significantly expedited the pace at which people are embracing technology,” he says.

He further notes that much as scaling up was primarily a challenge, it has since become an opportunity.

“As the retail sector experiences significant growth parallel to FinTech, we observe an increasing number of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) entering the retail consumer space. Everything is aligning, and we anticipate a substantial surge in the symbiotic relationship between SMEs and FinTech in the near future,” he says.

40 Days 40 FinTechs

Kamal and Maina are grateful to the organisers of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative for allowing innovators to converge and share ideas that can improve the FinTech landscape in the region and Africa at large.

“The #40Days40FinTechs initiative provides an invaluable opportunity for us to comprehend the dynamics within the FinTech landscape. While global engagement is crucial, the significance of local engagement cannot be overstated. Regardless of geographic location, the presence of a local expert who can offer guidance and strategies for business growth enhances the value of this initiative substantially,” notes Kamal.

Little are participants number 41 in this year’s edition of 40 Days 40 FinTechs, run by HiPipo in partnership with the Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner and Crosslake Technologies with generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO notes that Little APP is an example of last mile inclusion enabler. “In our ongoing pursuit of fostering last-mile financial inclusion, it is paramount to acknowledge those at the forefront of this cause. The Little App is commendably providing services and opportunities to riders, retailers, and others, thereby addressing the needs of the underserved populace. This effort deserves our utmost admiration and recognition.”

Craft Silicon is Pioneering a Financial Inclusion Revolution in Africa. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 40

With an impressive 23-year legacy, Craft Silicon stands as one of the most enduring and influential FinTech companies, boasting a clientele spanning over 30 nations across Africa and Asia. Their broad spectrum of services has demonstrated profound versatility, encompassing domains from microfinance to commercial banking, Islamic banking, digital banking platforms, anti-money laundering solutions, micro-lending, and most recently, ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ platforms. Over the past two decades, Craft Silicon has manifested an exhaustive range of capabilities, asserting its prominence in the financial technology landscape.

Dhimant Shah, Chief Executive Officer at Craft Silicon, asserts that their comprehensive and extensive experience positions them within the upper echelon of organizations instrumental in propelling financial inclusion worldwide.

“We started with our core banking solutions for microfinance which is something we excel at and are probably the number one microfinance core banking provider in the world,” he asserts.

In addition to its foundational services, Craft Silicon offers an extensive digital suite encompassing mobile banking platforms, retail and corporate Internet banking solutions, along with an array of payment platforms. This breadth of service offerings has rightfully earned them a spot amongst the top 50 fastest-expanding FinTechs in Africa.

Shah notes that it is this experience that has seen them work with more than 250 financial institutions across the world, serving about 89 million end users.

“At Craft Silicon, our reach extends beyond banks and financial institutions. We’ve recently established a division specifically to collaborate with governments, delivering essential revenue collection services. With this strategic move, we aim to broaden our impact and touch the lives of millions more through these interactions,” he says.

To put it into perspective, Craft Silicon processed about USD 7.5 billion worth of transactions in 2022.

“Our estimation at the end of this year we will be about USD13 billion worth of transactions processed by our systems,” he noted.

Thriving amid tough times

Craft Silicon is the 40th participant in this year’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative. Now in its impressive fourth season, this initiative, orchestrated by HiPipo, is designed to spotlight groundbreaking innovations that are instrumental in facilitating the integration of underserved populations into the digital economy. The initiative is proudly conducted in collaboration with renowned partners such as the Level One Project, the Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, and Crosslake Technologies, with generous backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Shah says that FinTech in Africa is laced with opportunities, especially at a time when there is emerging artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“So, how do we harness this technology for the end consumers?  How can they take advantage of the platforms that we provide? We are certainly excelling in that area of artificial intelligence; some of the products benefit immensely from artificial intelligence. It is not just about providing the rules,” he says.

In the pursuit of providing fair credit to consumers, Shah notes that artificial intelligence would be very helpful because it can check many money data checkpoints simultaneously and contribute towards a fair score for the consumer.

Furthermore, with its significant presence throughout Africa, Craft Silicon operates as a leading figure within the FinTech industry. Nonetheless, despite their esteemed position, they still encounter operational challenges on occasion.

First, Shah identifies cyber security threats as a primary challenge that they have learned to mitigate by employing certified ethical hackers as well as security professionals.

“There are also regulatory challenges across the countries that we work with.  The regulatory framework keeps changing and we have to keep up with it,” he says.

He however encourages African innovators to identify unique African problems and come up with specific solutions.

“We don’t have to always copy everything that the West does. How do we move with our own solutions to address the unique problems of Africans? We don’t always need to copy because there are areas where we excel in these technologies like our mobile money systems of M-Pesa,” he says.

In a similar vein, Shah applauds the organisers of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative for creating awareness among African FinTechs and end-users.

“People get to know what technologies are available, who are the people behind them, and their philosophies. This is not just a flash of knowledge that perhaps Craft Silicon is doing this but who are the people at Craft Silicon? What are their motives or philosophies? Why are they doing the things that they do?” he said.

Innocent Kawooya, CEO of HiPipo, posits that the involvement of well-established FinTechs like Craft Silicon in the industry serves as a potent catalyst for inspiring nascent startups. “Craft Silicon has exhibited remarkable resilience and adaptability. By offering a rich insight into the sector’s evolution and sharing how they’ve continually adapted to remain pertinent, we trust that emerging FinTechs can derive inspiration. We commend Craft Silicon for their unwavering commitment to hastening financial inclusion across Africa,” Kawooya noted.

Airtel Money Pay is powering Uganda’s cashless economy drive. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 39

Brenda Sekabembe cannot forget the day when a staff member at her company – Bake for Me, ran off with the company phone along with all the money on its mobile money account. The staffer was never found. The phone was not found. The money was never recovered.

But it was amid this adversity that Ssekabembe was introduced to another life-changing solution – Airtel Money Pay.

“We were trying to find solutions and we were told to try Airtel Money Pay, because with this service, as soon as the money hits our phones, it is sent directly to our account,” she says.

“The fact that the money goes straight to the bank, we don’t have to worry about it being stolen. Sometimes, your staff could even be part of the racket to steal the money. Airtel Money Pay brings a safer and more convenient process where you receive a message on your phone that money has been banked onto your account.”

Ssekabembe adds that the biggest advantage is the fact that, unlike ordinary mobile money accounts, Airtel Money Pay has no transaction limits.

“We now can receive as much money as we want and we also don’t get to worry about exceeding any transaction limits,” she says.

The charge is also not big compared to the risk involved in dealing with cash transactions.

“You pay EFT charges for the bank and this is okay with us. This is about Shs 3,500 for a day but it is small when you compare it with the risk that you would have undertaken if you decided to carry the money physically to the bank,” she says.

Further, Linda Akatuhurira, the Head Cashier at Fraine Supermarket, Ntinda notes that Airtel Money Pay has transformed their payments collection experience and significantly reduced accounting challenges.

“Airtel Money Pay has been really good because it has been aiding customers on paying promptly and cashless. We haven’t had any reconciliation issues because Airtel Money Pay reports come in instantly which is a win-win on our side,” Akatuhirira says, adding;

“We have nonetheless faced network challenges mainly over the weekends. Maybe because of high traffic during the weekends.”

Payments Revolution.

According to Japhet Aritho, the managing director of Airtel Mobile Commerce Uganda Limited (Airtel Money), Airtel Money Pay was introduced to transform the traditional mobile money business which was purely a money transfer business where a customer would just walk to an agent to deposit or send money to another person.

“Over time, we have discovered that the market is shifting. If you look at the payment landscape – foundationally, it was domiciled by cash in the country, and very few people who were privileged to have bank accounts used to have cards like Visa or Mastercard. Most of our traders are not in that formalized structure and the Airtel Money Pay is simply a means of enabling all our customers to conveniently pay for goods and services to a trader or enabling businesses to receive payment digitally from their customers,” he adds.

Aritho notes that everybody is a beneficiary starting from customers because they no longer need to cash out or risk their money in their pockets. Aritho notes that transactions worth more than Shs 700bn were completed via Airtel Money Pay in one year.

“For me, this value is expected to continue growing. In terms of unique users like people paying to businesses, if I look at their [individual] totals, it is close to Shs 2.4 million. This gives us hope,” he explains.

Aritho further adds that close to 40,000 businesses in Uganda are accepting payments via Airtel Money, which is a great sign for the shift to a cashless economy.

“If I look at the micro merchants – a product launched less than one year ago – we are already talking about 600,000 traders that have adopted the Airtel Money Pay,” he says.

Aritho acknowledges the fact that most consumers still believe in physical cash – both at the customer and business levels. Changing this behaviour from cash to cashless is always a very big challenge.

“In a market where we have more than 600,000 merchants where payments are accepted, why would a customer cash out and then pay a merchant when they can conveniently have money in their wallet and pay this merchant digitally? The behavioural change on adoption still requires massive sensitization,” he says.

HiPipo revolution.

Aritho extends credit to HiPipo, the organisers of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative, for bringing industry players together to discuss and understand where the industry is going. This is in addition to understanding the problems that they face and the possible partnerships.

“I can assure you and comment openly that Open APIs in Airtel Money would not be a reality today if not for the 40 Days 40 FinTechs platform. In last year’s event, we picked that as a challenge because everybody was talking about making the platform open. We have been able to do that and a month ago, we were able to bring to the public and launch – we actually have exposed like 10 Open APIs but people think it is one – which enables businesses to be digitized. I give HiPipo credit. What you are doing in this country is priceless,” he said.

Airtel Money is the 39th participant in this year’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative presented 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.

Innocent Kawooya, CEO of HiPipo, expressed his gratitude towards Airtel Money for their consistent engagement and their efforts in fostering an inclusive environment within the FinTech industry. “We deeply appreciate the involvement of prominent FinTechs like Airtel Money in this initiative. This year, our focus is on enhancing user experiences, and it’s encouraging to see that Airtel Money is making its APIs accessible to the public. This is certainly a significant stride towards the right direction,” Kawooya said.