Jumia at the forefront of Uganda’s shift to e-commerce

By Our writer

Electronic commerce is increasingly gaining momentum in Uganda and across Africa, having been ‘oiled’ by the 2020 outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced most businesses, irrespective of size to shift online.

One company that has been at the forefront of Africa’s growing e-commerce business is Jumia, one of the continent’s biggest platforms that have integrated logistics and digital payment services.

According to Timothy Mugume, the Jumia Food Uganda Country Lead, the firm, which connects customers across Africa to the different vendors, has enabled its customers have access to whatever goods they want, especially during the lockdown.

Jumia offers a range of services right from food deliveries to groceries, electronics and appliances and pharmaceutical products, among others to customers at affordable rates.

 “From the onset of the first lockdown last year, we put our partners – vendors and customers – at the forefront because their business continuity was paramount to us,” Mugume says.

Jumia, according to Mugume, is especially passionate about supporting women-led businesses. In partnership with organizations like the Kampala Capital City Authority and UNDP, the firm has trained women entrepreneurs in various skills including digital and business management, as well as undertaking initiatives that level the playing ground for them to compete effectively.

40-Days 40 FinTechs

Jumia Food is among the firms participating in the ongoing second edition of the 40-Days 40-FinTechs initiative, organized by HiPipo in partnership with Crosslake Technologies, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation, and sponsored by the Gates Foundation.

Mugume commended HiPipo for the initiative, saying that it has helped highlight tech innovations in the country and also created a platform to showcase leading innovations in Uganda and across the continent.

“FinTech and innovation is what we need to pull Uganda out of the challenges of slow economic growth. A platform like this provided by HiPipo highlighting the different ideas does not only stand as a beacon to bring hope to the economy but also highlights this information and shares it with interested parties, which is good for the ecosystem,” Mugume says.

The HiPipo Chief Executive Officer Innocent Kawooya notes that FinTech in Africa offers attractive opportunities, adding that investors are rightfully picking interest in various startups offering a plethora of services, ranging from payments and lending, remittances and cross-border transfers, among others.

“Each of these services solves unique sets of challenges. For example; with cross-border payments comes the opportunity to erase the outrageous rates and bureaucratic bottlenecks that stymie transactions and thus trade among African countries,” Kawooya says.

He adds that the 40-Days 40-FinTechs initiative seeks to boost the African FinTech ecosystem to enable innovators enjoy sustainable profitability to help them design and deploy affordable and inclusive financial services for the poor.

Having participated in the 2020 initiative, Mugume says Jumia picked key financial inclusion lessons which it has since implemented, including continuous adherence to its transparency policy, especially on the privacy and business practices.

Additionally, it ensures that vendors are settled in time as per the agreed timelines, in addition to ensuring that the right documentation in form of Know-Your-Customer (KYC) are obtained from the vendor to ensure smooth business transactions between them.

“It is important that we follow best practices like Level One Project Principles because most of these businesses do not have a lot of capital and we are cognizant of this; that is why we have flexible payment terms depending on the agreements signed,” Mugume explains.

He urges all market players to respect the same-day settlement principle, given that the ecosystem is heavily reliant on cash flows.

“This is a cash flow business and we must play our role as well; we make it easy for the customers to pay through our various payment channels; we should also settle with our vendors in a timely manner.”

40 Days 40 FinTechs Season Two Kicks Off.

HiPipo today successfully kicked off the 2nd edition of its 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative, a grand showcase of exhibition, discussion and dialogue that is centered around offering exposure to those innovators that are enabling many, specifically those yet to enjoy financial inclusivity, the opportunity to become part of the digital economy by way of digital financial services.

‘This year we are aiming for a better understanding of the FinTech ecosystem,’ HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya revealed, adding, ’40 Days 40 FinTechs shall feature creators and innovators catering to multiple sectors. We shall also touch on interoperability at all levels, and generate appreciation and leverage for frameworks, like the Level One Project and Mojaloop, that are already in place to enable this’.

First to showcase was the Mallan Company led by its CEO Malcolm Kastiro. They gave exciting updates about their latest product named ‘Yassako’; an instant micro-credit facility for utilities, specifically electricity.

Malcolm revealed that the exposure brought by the inaugural 40 Days 40 FinTechs had boosted ‘Yassako’ uptake, and allowed Mallan to engage in more proactive planning on where they want to take the service. ’40 Days 40 FinTechs helps you go further,’ Malcolm revealed in appreciation.

He added that HiPipo and #40Days40FinTechs can ably further serve as a validation platform for fintechs, and quickly remove barriers to investment and funding, plus also be an asset in attracting the talent the industry needs.

Innocent lauded Yassako as a product that is well aligned with the Level One Project Principles, enabling low income earners to become part of the digital economy.

He further promised that HiPipo is intensifying its support, specifically in relation to documentation and sourcing for grants/funding.

Yassako Explained.  

While still in the pilot phase, the Yassako project, an innovation of Mallan Company Limited, has in a space of just a year grown its customer base to over 100 users every day.

The growing interest in the product is a testimony of how Financial Technology Companies (FinTechs) are helping solving day-to-day challenges facing millions of Ugandans.

Offered in partnership with Airtel Money, Yassako is an instant micro-credit emergency solution that enables users to recharge their pre-paid Yaka electricity on credit any time.

The product was introduced after Mallan Company, which specializes in Value Added Services and advanced credit services in the mobile payments space, noticed a gap in the market, when some Ugandans were running out of Yaka ( Electricity) units in weird hours after Umeme shifted its metering system from post-paid to pre-paid, something most Ugandans were not prepared for.

The solution has turned out to be a life saver for many Ugandans, who can now get electricity units on credit and pay within a maximum 30 days.

The company for now offers a minimum of sh2, 000 worth of Yaka units and a maximum of sh10, 000. Each credit attracts 15% service fee, according to Malcolm Kastiro, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Mallan Company Limited.

Kastiro explains that the low figures are intentional, given that it is an emergency solution. Additionally, they want to ensure that the amounts are not so big for customers to pay back.

“We just take you through that small fix you are in for that moment; probably it is lights, ironing or cooking. We allow you to get enough electricity units to do what you want to do so that the next day you go and purchase electricity,” Kastiro says.

Given that the service is offered in partnership with Airtel, it is for now available to Airtel customers only.  Kastiro, however, says that the company is in talks with MTN to have the service offered to its customers too.

Additionally, he notes that the company has plans to roll out the credit solution to pay television service providers such as Dstv and GoTv among others.

However, National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) customers will have to wait a little longer as Kastiro says that the post-paid nature of bill payment makes it tricky. Additionally, the bills involved are also too big.

He, however, expresses optimism that since NWSC has plans to introduce the pre-paid metering system, they will engage it once the system in rolled out in future.

Additionally, there are also plans to engage other electricity distributors, especially those serving the upcountry areas, offer the service to their pre-paid users.

Eligibility

For one to qualify for the Yassako credit solution, s/he must have been an Airtel subscriber for at least three months. To qualify for a certain amount of credit, one must have spent at least twice the credit value they are requesting for.

40 Days 40 FinTechs

Mallan Company Limited featured on Day One of the second edition of the 40-Days 40-FinTechs initiative, organised by HiPipo in partnership with Crosslake Technologies, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation, Level One Project and sponsored by the Gates Foundation.

The initiative which provides a platform for FinTechs and stakeholders in the digital and financial technology space to exhibit their products and share ideas, seeks to boost the African FinTech ecosystem to enable innovators enjoy sustainable profitability to help them design and deploy affordable and inclusive financial services for the poor.

Kastiro says that the 40-Days 40 FinTechs has given it a platform to reach more customers, interact and engage with other key stakeholders.

Kastiro notes that Mallan Company implements LevelOneProject principles such as real time payment and same day settlement. Additionally, he says that the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) principle is also key as they cannot extend credit to someone that we don’t know.

“We must have information about you so that we do the credit scoring, so that we know whether you qualify and if you do, how much do you qualify for. These are fundamental features that we need for us to offer a good service,” he notes.

At the end of the day One session, the HiPipo chief executive officer Innocent Kawooya noted: “We are proud to kick off the 40-Days 40 FinTechs season Two by showcasing Mallan Group. Initially mooted in our first edition, we are glad that it is now ready for market, in no small part due to the support 40-Days 40 FinTechs offered and continues to do so.”

He added that Yassako is a fine example of the transformative technology that can positively change societies and communities.

“This is the first of its kind in East Africa and on the entire African continent that enables customers get electricity on credit. It offers great opportunity for home businesses and SMEs that might need critical assistance at vital points of the production value chain,” Kawooya says.

He adds: “ As we talk of digital lending, borrowing and all other service points on the digital ecosystem, it should not be forgotten how vital it is that products like Yassako exist to help and attract many to on-board onto digital rails, taking the first crucial step to financial inclusivity.”

Despite the enacting of the National Payments Systems Act mid this year, Kastiro, however, says that it poses a risk of creating monopolistic tendencies in the industry, given the stringent requirements required to get an operation license.

#LevelOneProject

Registration for Women in FinTech Hackathon kicks-off.

17th, August, 2020: As part of its on-going Financial Inclusion efforts in Uganda and across Africa, HiPipo has today unveiled the Women in FinTech hackathon and summit.

Slated for 12th to 17th, September, the Women in FinTech hackathon will have developers convening to develop financial inclusion solutions that address their communities’ needs, aided by Level One Project principles and the latest payment technologies such as Mojaloop open source software. During the hackathon, the participants will interact with facilitators, mentors and judges drawn from across the world.

Registration for this first of its kind hackathon has kicked off today – 17th August 2020 and will go on until Friday 4th September 2020, after which shortlisted teams will be announced and guided on next steps. Eligible participants will be those that will have registered a team of 2 to 4 participants; the team leader must be a woman and at-least 2 of the team members must be women too.

Organized by HiPipo under its Include EveryOne program in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation, this women focused hackathon will culminate in to the Women in FinTech summit on Friday 18th September.

While announcing these two activities, Innocent Kawooya, the CEO of HiPipo noted that it is important to have more women involved in financial technology as this will ensure that products and services on the market are well-tailored to serve women, who while are the majority are less included.

“In line with both Bank of Uganda and Level One Project’s Financial Inclusion principles, the Women in FinTech hackathon and summit will promote the adoption of ICT-based financial services because they deliver affordable and innovative financial solutions to the poor, vulnerable and least included groups such as women., ”Kawooya said, adding;

“The project holistically supports both the United Nations and the government of Uganda’s efforts of using ICTs for socio-economic transformation. We need to bring more women on board so that there can be more products that properly address the needs of the majority women.”

The Women in FinTech Hackathon and Summit come at the back of the great success of the recently concluded 40 Days 40 Fintechs initiative and the FinTech Landscape Exhibition that attracted over 100 financial sector organisations from across Africa, between May 13 and July 30th 2020.

Important Dates:

  1. 17th August to 4th September: Online Registration.
  2. 4th to 8th September: Eligible participants announced.
  3. 12 September: Women in FinTech hackathon briefing for shortlisted teams.
  4. 14th to 17th September: Women in FinTech hackathon.
  5. 18th September: Women in Fintech summit.

Eligibility:

  1. A team of 2 to 4 developers.
  2. The team leader must be a woman.
  3. At-least 2 of team members must be women.

Benefits:

  1. Networking with fellow Developers and Facilitators from across the World.
  2. Mentorship from Industry Players and Business Leaders.
  3. Access to latest infrastructure and technology.
  4. Prizes to the winning team and all participants.

Ends.

E-commerce platforms urged to ensure real time settlements.

Our Reporter.

Electronic commerce platforms have been urged to settle financial obligations they have with partner businesses on the same day to enable them have sufficient cash flows to keep them afloat.

Speaking during the fintech Landscape exhibition at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Damali Ssali, a trade development expert said that small businesses rely on daily sales to keep their business afloat and thus should be paid the same day.

It should be noted that while there are a number of financial technology companies that sell different goods to online buyers, they do not own the items they sell; they instead source them from third parties such as small businesses and deliver them to their clients, who either pay the fintech via mobile money or cash on delivery.

Ssali said that most times the small business owners operate on a small capital base and that when it takes several days to get paid, it constrains their ability to keep in business.

“Make timely payments to that woman in a market who has supplied the tomatoes which you have delivered to your client because that person is the most vulnerable in the entire value chain. They should not be exploited by the big players because they have to restock, feed their families and also have to serve other customers,” Ssali said.

Ssali also noted that international best practices dictate that a good e-commerce environment should be able to settle the liability of the person at the end of transaction on that same day.

The Jumia Food country manager, Timothy Mugume said the company understands well the value of same day settlement and does it religiously to enable its partners continue running businesses and continue supplying them and other customers.

Mugume noted that there are immense opportunities in e-commerce. He noted that online payments have grown tremendously during the ovid-19 pandemic crisis as people shifted to online purchases due to social distancing and lockdown measures.

The Head of payments at Safe Boda, Nicholas Kamanzi, also said that the ride-hailing firm does same day settlements because these small businesses need money to restock and continue operating.

He noted that previously, they could pay after a few days but they realised that the businesses needed money the same day and thus adjusted.

The Lusuku (garden online) founder and CEO Medhi Matovu alluded to the huge opportunity presented by Covid-19, saying that players need to focus on changing people’s attitudes towards e-commerce platforms to enable it play a meaningful transformative role in society.

The Information and Communication Technology minister, Hon Judith Nabakooba alluded to how the pandemic has fastened the adoption of e-commerce, saying that a multitude of transactions are increasingly being conducted electronically due to social distancing and lockdown measures.

She urged providers of digital financial services to seize the available opportunities to produce more products and services so as to eliminate any existing gaps.

Nabakooba said that the current situation presents numerous opportunities for prepared fintechs and other related technology service providers.

She noted that as people get used to the new normal, the uptake of e-services is bound to increase.

Exhibition

The fintech landscape exhibition sought to mark the end of the 40-days-40-fintechs project, which was organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The engaged fintechs were equipped with interoperability skills, using Mojaloop, a switching platform with a centralised service that brings together digital financial service providers to help boost financial inclusion in Africa.

The HiPipo CEO, Innocent Kawooya said the successful execution of the 40-days-40-fintechs project, is expected to change the way financial inclusion is done in the world, transform millions of lives in years to come and change the way financial inclusion will be done in Uganda going forward.

He pledged that HiPipo will continue advocating for a level playing field for all fintechs across Africa to thrive.

Conducive policy environment key driver of digital solutions – experts.

Our Reporter.

Financial technology companies (fintechs) have called for a conducive environment to enhance the adoption of digital financial solutions.

The appeal was made by Oscar Ofumbi, the Head of Business at Lend in a Box, a financial technology company during the two-day fintech landscape exhibition at Sheraton Kampala Hotel last week.

According to Ofumbi, the lack of a conducive policy makes adoption of digital financial solutions difficult.

“If you have a good policy, adoption will be a lot easier because when you talk about an ecosystem, you are talking about the people that are involved in the entire value chain. You need a good policy to ensure that each and everyone’s interest are well taken care of,” Ofumbi said.

It should be noted that while Parliament passed the National Payment Systems (NPS) Bill, 2019 about a month and a half ago, that will among others seek to regulate and provide for the safety and efficiency of payment systems and issuance of electronic money, the president is yet to assent to it.

Citing the Data Protection and Privacy Act (2019), the National Broadband policy and the NPS Bill, the Information and Communication Technology Minister Judith Nabakooba said that the government has set up a conducive legal regime that supports the growth of the sector.

However, Ronald Azairwe, the Pegasus Technologies managing director said that while there is more regulation which is expected to level the playing ground, the NPS is a double edged sword, which he said could make it a little harder for fintech startups to start. This, he said, is because of the whole licensing regime they are supposed to undergo.

“Regulation stands in the way of innovation; we have erratic regulations that sometimes come up and stifle innovation,” he said.

The landscape festival was organised by HiPipo, to mark the end of the 40-days-40-fintechs project, which was held in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The engaged fintechs were equipped with interoperability skills, using Mojaloop, a switching platform with a centralised service that brings together digital financial service providers to help boost financial inclusion in Africa.

The HiPipo CEO, Innocent Kawooya said HiPipo will continue advocating for a leveled playing field for all fintech players but noted that collaboration is needed to achieve this.

He said the project will not only change the way financial inclusion is done in the world but also transform millions of lives in years to come and change the way financial inclusion is going to be done in Uganda going forward.

Kawooya alluded to the need to secure payment platforms, saying that without that, people will lose trust and confidence in the digital payments systems.

“HiPipo recognises that this 40 Days 40 FinTechs season is just the beginning, and so much more needs to be done especially around raising the levels of confidence of customers in the digital payment systems. We shall continue with the same fearlessness: we are proud to continue forging Africa’s digital and financial landscape. And with the potential we have seen, with the talent we have helped nurture, we know that to ‘Include Everyone’ is more than just a dream, it is something we are making real…,” Kawooya said.

Customer centricity is key in promoting digital financial inclusion.

Our Reporter.

Financial technology companies (fintechs) have been urged to ensure customer centricity in the development of digital financial products, as it will be key in enhancing financial inclusion.

Speaking during the two-day fintech landscape exhibition to mark the end of the 40-days-40-fintechs project at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Wendy Nanfo, the customer delivery supervisor at Jumo Uganda said customer centricity will enable fintech players focus on customer needs and thus provide innovate products that best suit their needs.

“We need to focus on customer needs; investigate the actions and the artifacts of all the touch points on a customer journey. Knowing who you are serving helps you understand the data and be able to provide a product that best suits your customer,” Nanfo said.

Customer centricity is having a product or service that responds to customer needs at all times.

Nanfo commended HiPipo for advocating for Mojaloop software, saying that it will provide an interoperable solution which is expected to be a game changer in the fintech space as it will provide players with an alternative source of data.

“You need data to be able to serve the person at the bottom of the pyramid. So being able to plug into an API that has data from other sources will help us produce products that best suit our customers,” she said.

The Buladde Financial Services financial services manager John Mark Golooba also alluded to the need to offer simple to use digital financial products to enable people who are still financially excluded to adopt.

The FinTech landscape exhibition was organised by HiPipo, to mark the end of the 40-days-40-fintechs project, which was held in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The engaged fintechs were equipped with interoperability skills, using Mojaloop, a switching platform with a centralised service that brings together digital financial service providers to help boost financial inclusion in Africa.

Across Africa, it is estimated that only about 43% of people in sub-Saharan Africa are financially included while in Uganda about 78% of the population is financially included both formally and informally.

This is mainly because of high transactional costs, especially across different service providers, which experts say is an obstacle to achieving meaningful financial inclusion.

Currently, providers of digital solutions have to build everything on their own, which is expensive as there is no single loop. This means that they have to charge high transaction fees that are hard for poor customers to afford. Additionally, more services end up being a closed loop where customers can only transact with other customers using the same service.

Lowering cost would therefore require shared platforms like Mojaloop, unto which all players can plug at a low cost, which will help lower both on-network and off-network transaction costs.

Simple products

Daisy Kavinya Mwanzia, senior manager banking, MTN Group  said there is need for simplification of financial products, saying it will be key in facilitating adoption of digital financial solutions that include everyone in society.

She said Mojaloop has laid a good foundation, which will provide for the simplification of digital financial solutions and thus enhance financial inclusion across the globe.

The Flutterwave country lead Nielsimms Sangho said his fintech, which specializes in building infrastructure that can be used by others to build products, will use its expertise to help innovators develop relevant products that can be used by everyone, including those who cannot speak English.

The Lend in a Box Head of Business Oscar Ofumbi on the other hand urged fintechs to embrace cyber insurance so as to externalize risks by allowing the insurance company take on any related costs suffered in case of an attack.

Additionally, Ofumbi urged them to use a two-factor authentication, a multi-factor method that requires users to input different pieces of evidence before they are granted access to the account or system. This, according to him, will ensure an enhanced level of security for players in the fintech sector.

He noted that cyber risks are becoming a challenge for the sector, given that it could either be perpetuated by either an employee or a third-party service provider and that using insurance or a two-factor authentication would be very helpful.

The HiPipo CEO, Innocent Kawooya said HiPipo will continue advocating for a leveled playing field for all fintech players but noted that collaboration is needed to achieve this.

He said the project will not only change the way financial inclusion is done in the world but also transform millions of lives in years to come and change the way financial inclusion is going to be done in Uganda going forward.

Kawooya alluded to the need to secure payment platforms, saying that without that, people will lose trust and confidence in the digital payments systems.

“Without secure digital financial services, the world cannot achieve full financial inclusion because if there is a lot of fraud and businesses losing money in an ecosystem, people will not use it; they will keep money in their bags or assets and in the end, we shall not have money to grow the economy,” Kawooya said.

#40Days40FinTechs: Trade-Lance is using technology to leave a lasting mark in people’s lives.

Our Reporter.

While the COVID-19 crisis has taught people the importance of digital technologies in all aspects of life, its importance has been greatly felt in the financial space.

An increasing number of transactions are progressively going online as social distancing and the lockdown proved that it is only technology that can be harnessed to keep things moving, irrespective of the situation at hand.

This has played out well for Financial Technology Companies (FinTechs), which are aggressively innovating to bridge the gap.

Among them is Trade-Lance, a firm that provides integration and aggregation services to telecoms, financial institutions and utility companies, among others.

Established about 15 years ago, the financial technology company, offers a range from Value Added service solutions including project management, business audits, business analysis, systems architecture, systems development, systems integration, data centre design and management, and ICT training.

Trade-Lance is also does mobile money aggregation with MTN, Airtel, Africell and have integrations with various banks and utility companies in Uganda, according to Ewolu Nelson Mandela, the firm’s Sales and Marketing Analyst.

The firm harnesses technology to offer a range of products including micro loan support, touch pay, M-ticketing, online betting solutions, M-rent, Katale, remittances across networks, airtime to all networks, SharaPay and merchant solutions, among others.

Under micro loan support, the firm offers support for Moneylenders, donors and Saccos. The product also offers SMEs the provision to pay out loans to their customers as a well a medium for collecting premiums.

The Touch Pay product on the other hand offers a fast and secure way of paying fees, thus eliminating the need to queue in banks and sending pocket money to children at school, using mobile money. The solution also provides a closed loop student wallet system that enables parents send money to students while at school, which can be spent in areas parents are certain of.

The M-ticketing solution allows one to sell event tickets using mobile money, via a USSD code, thereby eliminating paper tickets and offering a convenient and secure way of managing events.

Trade-Lance’s Online Betting Solution enables its clients to send bets to their favourite betting companies directly from their mobile phone while the M-rent solution is used by property owners to manage their properties, collect rent and pay service providers.

This, according to Ewolu, enables one to monitor their properties’ cash flow and to plan maintenance schedules with service providers as well as paying their dues at your own convenience.

On the other hand, Katale is an online market place that offers online presence for retailers and wholesalers. It also offers international remittances in partnership with PostBank among other products.

Regional links

The firm also operates in South Sudan, where it delivered the Unified Mobile Money platform and provided a broker to the Unified mobile money platform. All third party integrations in the country use its platform. It also has presence in Ethiopia.

Trade-Lace is among the firms participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The initiative seeks to enable FinTechs to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Running for 40 days, the project will see the participating 40 FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya applauded Trade-Lance for thinking interoperability despite the existing limitations that come with connecting and integrating with the different players.

He noted that interoperability even between telecoms in Uganda is still very expensive.

“For every single transaction, you are charged a minimum of 13%, which is very high for finance,” Kawooya said.

He added: “So the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative is part of our 15- year journey of advocating for digital transformation.”

In organizing the 40-days-40-FinTechs project, Kawooya said that HiPipo wants to use the knowledge and skills acquired from its association with some of the founders of new edge technology – Microsoft, Google, Linux and Facebook – to create a leveled ground that allows everyone  to play in the same playing field.

He said that working collaboratively will promote innovation and in turn boost financial inclusion.

Kawooya noted that COVID-19 has also shown people that this is the time for everyone to think digital.

He further noted that anyone who innovate around mobile in Africa is destined to succeed, given that Africa is an economy, which people refer to as a mobile first continent.

“It has been proved that all those who innovate around the mobile easily get to capture the market and easily get to grow and to sustainably serve and transform lives,” Kawooya said.

Kawooya said that HiPipo seeks to ensure that the world, starting from Africa, achieves full digital transformation, given the enormous opportunities that come with digital exposure.

FileTax is helping businesses file taxes with ease.

Our Reporter.

While some people and businesses in Uganda would be willing to pay taxes, the cumbersome procedures make it difficult for many to comply.

This explains why the Uganda Revenue Authority, the body charged with collecting taxes on behalf of the government, is still failing to increase the country’s taxable base, despite there being a big number of people and businesses that qualify to pay taxes.

However, one technology company, FileTax, has set out to simplify and revolutionize tax payment in Uganda by helping individuals and businesses comply with their tax obligations so that they can support economic development.

Malcolm Kastiro, the FileTax founder said that the firm helps simplify tax payment through technology and offers advisory and training services on how to file their taxes better.

Katsiro said he was motivated to start the company after realizing that there is a big mandate to get as many people as possible to participate in financial services.

He noted that once a poor family is empowered on how to use money, they be inspired to scale and thus start a small business and as it grows, they have to be educated about tax matters so as to enable them comply with the taxman.

“As FileTax, we are trying to show people that as much as you are spending and keeping track of your expenses, you also need to remember that there is an obligation to government to pay taxes

Katsiro said that emphasis is put on women, given that they are the backbone of any society, know how to spend money, are always good at budgets and several are trying to start businesses but lack the necessary skills for them to manage certain aspects of their businesses, including taxes.

He noted that they are coming up with a simple way of empowering women to be able to keep abreast with the kind of taxes they need to pay and when to pay them.

Kastiro also announced that women in business have also been given an offer, where their businesses will pay UShs150,000 for a package that will enable them file taxes better, down from UShs200,000.

They will also benefit from advisory and training services on how to file their taxes better.

Technology key

FileTax is among the firms participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs project, organised by HiPipo and in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The initiative seeks to enable companies to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Running for 40 days, the project has seen the participating 40 FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya applauded FileTax for the innovation, saying that filing tax has never been simple, even for some big firms.

He noted that it is important that taxation becomes an important point of discussion saying that when money becomes digital, it will become easy to visualize and also make it easy for the government to monitor.

“With digital money, authorities will know the money generated by a business, payments made and the amount of tax an entity is required to pay as tax.

“With this, we will have no burden as innovators and proprietors of different businesses and the government will be able to have better service provision such as good schools, health facilities and road infrastructure among other,” he said.

Kawooya added that technology has played a major role in the growth of the economy as a number of tech firms are tax compliant.

“What a good way to end the first 40-days-40-FinTechs other than with an entity that speaks to regulation in terms of making sure that people pay taxes. If we want service provision, then we must all pay taxes,” Kawooya said.

#40days40Fintechs: Merchandise Uganda is linking sellers to buyers.

Our Reporter.

Merchandise Uganda, an e-commerce platform that connects sellers to buyers is increasingly gaining prominence in Uganda, owing to its ability to connect businesses to market across the globe easily.

Established in March 2019, the platform allows merchants to open mini-showrooms through which they market their products to potential buyers by posting product photos and adverts, reviews, tips and videos.

It has a number of sectors including agriculture, construction, manufacturing, legal logistics, hotels, education and family, general merchandise and health, among others, where people post their products, depending on the category.

Among the benefits are direct link between suppliers, business and buyers, awareness creation about available products, branding, helps local businesses link up with global buyers and also enabling businesses to participate in online auctioning.

Nurudin Busingye, the Merchandise Uganda Operations Manager said the firm was established with a view of creating a level playing field for people in business, irrespective of size

“You find that some businesses are unable to afford rent in particular areas even though they would have wanted to operate from that place. With this platform, services are affordable so anyone can market their products to potential buyers,” Busingye said.

Without divulging in to details, Busingye said that in a space of one and a half years, many businesses have benefited from enhanced brand visibility, which has resulted into increased sales.

 

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya commended Merchandise Uganda saying that it is doing a fantastic work of ensuing it digitally includes different people.

 

He, however, urged them to pay more attention to ensuring that they offer a full online experience to their customers that is free of glitches.

 

“As players in this space, we have to be extremely very customer sensitive because in the end, that is what speaks to customer experience. We need good practice of cyber security that speaks to customer needs and thoughts,” he said.

 

He added: “We are happy to celebrate you because you are doing a good job but we will be very glad to help you walk through the journey of ensuring that you do a full integration and complete the customer journey once and for all. This will ensure that a customer can have a full experience and allow you to integrate with interoperable payment systems that will enable you to scale in any market so as to serve more customers.”

 

Merchandise Uganda is among the firms participating in the ongoing inaugural 40-days-40-FinTechs project organized by HiPipo and in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The initiative seeks to enable FinTechs to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Running for 40 days, the project has seen the participating 40 FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software

Kawooya said the 40-days-40-FinTech initiative will be held annually so as to enable them continue shinning a light on prime stories in financial technology that are transforming millions of lives.

#40days40Fintechs: Hamwe East Africa transforming agriculture through digitization.

Our Reporter.

Digital agriculture is increasingly gaining prominence across the world. It is predicted that by 2021, the digital agriculture market, including value of software, algorithm, platforms and links between farming and technology hardware, would triple to $15 billion.

To tap into this growing market so as to transform agriculture through enhanced production and productivity, Hamwe East Africa, a startup that specializes in the digitization of agricultural value chains, was established in 2013.

The company’s co-founder Allan Asiimwe said that while the initial objective was a desire to help farmers have computerized records, it later evolved into a fully digital platform after identifying that the biggest problems facing farmers were being unable to get timely payments and moving long distances to receive payments.

The company then re-invented itself to solve these challenges.  It set up the M-Farmer app, which is designed to extend the benefits of technology to agricultural value chains where different actors – farmers, traders, processors and consumers – can build better records, increase efficiency of operations and make informed decisions.

The M-Farmer platform functionality includes farmer profiling and registration, collections, check-off system, mobile payments, supplier module, e-extension, farm monitoring, order management, farmer app and traceability.

“We were motivated by the need to solve what we thought were fundamental problems facing farmers so as to enable them do farming as a business  and also sustain and have livelihoods from their activity,” Asiimwe said.

He added: “Over 70% of the working population in Uganda is involved in agriculture but the playing field is not leveled for them to make sense out of their vocations. But since we went into digitization, it has taught us that there is so much that needs to be done.

“There is need to work on the infrastructure and collaborations starting with government, financial  institutions and technology companies – especially those that have been there before to solve these problems – and development partners in order for the farmer to get that last mile experience of being part of that ecosystem.

Hamwe East Africa is among the 40 firms participating in the 40-days-40 FinTechs initiative, which is organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The initiative seeks to enable FinTechs to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Running for 40 days, the project has seen the participating 40 FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya commended Hamwe East Africa for thinking about digitizing agriculture, saying that it (agriculture) together with technology are among the two most important sectors in Uganda.

This, he said, is because Covid-19 proved that the country did not have enough maize flour and beans to distribute to the targeted people while technology emerged as one of crucial sector that connected people during the crisis.

“The easiest ways of making sure that we have food is to ensure farmers are empowered with technology to help them receive payments in real time and to have whatever kind of information they need to ensure they have better agricultural practices and also to bridge the gap between farmers and sellers of the end product,” Kawooya said.

He also commended all the firms that have participated in this year’s 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative, saying that the project would not have been successful without their participation.

Although it was limited to slightly over 40 FinTechs, despite being oversubscribed, Kawooya said that they will ensure that they integrate more learning opportunities in future so that even those that are unable to participate as mainstream participants, can take part during different days to share knowledge.