Hon. Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo Named as Patron of Decent Africa

Decent Africa announces the appointment of Hon. Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo, Minister of State for Information Communication Technology, as the new patron of the organization. This partnership signifies a significant step towards fostering a culture of decency and respect across the African continent.

Hon. Ssebugwawo brings a wealth of leadership experience, community engagement, and a steadfast commitment to decency and public service, making her an invaluable addition to Decent Africa. Her illustrious career in community mobilization, ICT, and visionary leadership will play a pivotal role in advancing initiatives that promote integrity, elegance, and impactful leadership among Africa’s prominent figures.

In her capacity as Patron, Hon. Ssebugwawo will play a crucial role in shaping the strategic direction of Decent Africa and expanding its outreach. Her expertise in decency and digital technologies perfectly aligns with the organization’s objectives to utilize digital media for broader societal impact and empower future generations through innovative educational and advocacy programs.

Decent Africa is confident that Hon. Ssebugwawo’s guidance will enhance its initiatives and extend its impact deeper into the community. The organization eagerly anticipates productive leadership and collaboration with Hon. Ssebugwawo as they continue to champion and uphold the values of decency and decorum across Africa.

JUMO World Uganda has disbursed over 20m loans in five years. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 16

In March 2020, Uganda was placed under a total lockdown following the outbreak of the deadly Covid-19. Only essential workers such as security personnel, market vendors, and construction workers were allowed to continue working.

One such essential worker was Sarah Naluwagga Lubambula, a vendor at Kalerwe Market in Kampala. But Naluwagga says despite this allowance, business was very bad because all people were holed up in their homes.

“I needed a loan to boost my business but all money lenders had closed. Everything was a mess,” she recalls.

Then a friend introduced Naluwagga to Wewole, a quick-loan service powered by JUMO World Uganda for Airtel Money subscribers.

“He told me that I just needed to dial *185# and go straight to Wewole on number 8. After that, I would just ask for an amount that I wanted,” she says.

“On the first attempt, it was just a trial. When I got the Shs 20,000, I was surprised that it was real. I kept on increasing to Shs 30,000, Shs 50,000, and Shs 60,000 until I reached Shs 800,000.”

Naluwagga says Wewole transformed her business. It made life better because no matter what time, she would just go to her phone and get a bailout.

“My only challenge is the issue of high-interest rates; but besides that, we are very happy with Wewole.

Just like Naluwagga, Namuyiga Shamim who owns a restaurant in Kamwokya, is enjoying similar benefits through Mo Sente, an equivalent of Wewole for MTN Mobile Money subscribers.

“For me, I started using Mo Sente in 2022. We were in the hospital and our bill was too much yet we had little cash on us. We went to Mo Sente and got some money to clear our outstanding bill,” she recalls.

“The beauty about this service is that when you apply for a loan, your account is credited immediately.”

JUMO integration.

Wewole and Mo Sente are powered by JUMO, in partnership with telecom companies Airtel and MTN respectively. According to Wilfred Wabwire, the Country Manager for JUMO World Uganda and Kenya, JUMO specializes in integrating other platforms to enable them to offer loans, savings, and a wide range of financial choices to customers.

“The JUMO platform provides end-to-end banking as a service infrastructure by leveraging machine learning and data to reduce the cost and risk of lending. JUMO is solving the problem of lack of access to financial services for the majority of the people,” he says, noting that eligible customers have a repayment period of 14 days or 30 days.

“We have Wewole in partnership with Airtel Money. We also have the Mo Sente Access credit solution in partnership with MTN Mobile Money Uganda Limited. Customers can choose between the 14 and 30-day loan terms. Customers can borrow from as low as Shs 3,000. Customers with a good repayment history can potentially qualify for larger amounts,” Wabwire says.

He adds that for a customer to qualify for higher amounts, they have to pay their loan on time. They have got to continuously transact on their mobile money wallets as well as data and voice.

Multimillion loans.

Wabwire says that since 2017 when these products were introduced, JUMO has served about 3.4 million Ugandans.

“We have disbursed about 20.7 million loans with a value of about $280m. Six out of every 10 loans that JUMO disburses go out to MSMEs (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises),” he says.

According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development, MSMEs contribute 80 percent to Uganda’s GDP. Essentially, JUMO is directly contributing to the growth of the economy in Uganda.

Another statistic Wabwire alludes to is the fact that one in every three borrowers on the JUMO platform is a woman while at least 50 percent of the JUMO borrowers are based in rural areas. This, for him, is creating an inclusive financial services sector.

“This is very important because traditionally, rural areas have been left out of traditional financial services. This is because the traditional infrastructure does not consider this sector [MSMEs] profitable,” he says.

“The JUMO platform can help customers no matter where they are located. Our loans are easy to access as long as a customer has got a phone. The loans are accessible via a USSD code which is available anywhere in the country.”

40 Days 40 FinTechs.

Wabwire says that the speed at which Ugandans and East Africans are coming up with innovations in the FinTech space has proven too fast for even the regulatory bodies.

“When you look at aspects such as regulation, they are always catching up with the innovations. In most cases, they never, probably, understand what is it that we are trying to solve,” he says.

He however applauds organisers of the 40 days 40 FinTechs initiative that is providing a platform for all stakeholders in the FinTech space to converge and share ideas.

“In the end, our customers will be able to know what we are solving and they utilize our innovation. Investors will also be able to know what we are solving and provide us with the much-needed capital in the sector,” he says.

JUMO World, Uganda is the sixteenth participant in the 2023 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative.

HiPipo’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative has become a household name in the financial technology space of Africa. In the last three editions, more than 100 FinTechs have been showcased, highlighting stories changing people’s lives, especially in the under-served sectors.

According to HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya, big players like JUMO World serve as an example to the emerging FinTechs that targeted innovations can indeed create a wider impact.

“JUMO World is now tried and tested. Their story tells us that when you identify an everyday problem and offer the right proposition and solution, success will look for you,” he said.

The 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative is organized 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.

My Doctor is using Telemedicine to provide equitable Healthcare to underserved communities. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 15

Antenatal care is one service pregnant women struggle to seek. Many expectant mothers actually wait to first get a pregnancy complication to go for antenatal monitoring. They just hate the inconvenience of visiting the hospital every now and then.

But what if this service was digitized?

When Divinah Twinomujuni was pregnant last year, she went to My Doctor in Nansana, Wakiso District, Uganda where she was introduced to digital healthcare services.

“They told me I didn’t have to come to the hospital all the time. I would just talk to the doctor through the phone and he directs me on what to do,” she recalls.

In traditional medicine, a mother is supposed to have around six face-to-face antennal visits but at My Doctor, Twinomujuni was told that she could have a maximum of three face-to-face visits and the rest would be conducted via the phone.

“I just had to make regular video calls with the doctor. When my time for delivery came, I called the doctor and he immediately sent a car that picked me up from home to the hospital. I delivered my baby girl,” she says.

Twinomujuni has since been receiving digital postpartum care and she has no complaints.

“The baby is healthy and fine. After delivery, the doctors would call me on a daily for supervision and check on the baby,” she says.

My Doctor is a digital healthcare services platform that is transforming the traditional healthcare system like never before. Attached to a physical health centre, My Doctor is providing equitable healthcare services by ensuring that people, especially those with emergencies easily reach out to professional medical services providers either through a phone call or social media text, audio, and video.

According to Dr. David Mwesigwa, the Medical in-charge of My Doctor Digital Health Care Services, healthcare should be the most accessible service because it touches people’s lives.

“Every second of the day, a person should be able to access medical care. So, we introduced this digital platform, call it Tele-medicine/consultation, where patients can call in and consult a doctor from wherever they are,” he says.

How does it work?

When a client calls in, they are received by someone in the call centre who connects them to a doctor. The doctor then investigates the condition of the patient and if they have any medical records such as laboratory tests, they are required to share them via WhatsApp for review. Payments are made using mobile money.

“For those who require lab checkups, we reach out to them and collect the sample and run the test from our facility. We later deliver the results via a phone call and share reports for those with smartphones,” Dr. Mwesigwa says.

He adds that when they give a prescription, the patient has various options. Those that require injections can either come to the facility or a mobile medical team is dispatched to the patient’s residence. For those that don’t need injections, there is a delivery team that takes the medication to the patient.

New Normal.

According to Sharon Namboozo, the Business Development Officer at My Doctor, there is still a challenge to convince an ordinary Ugandan that they can get medical services through the phone or via the internet. This challenge is acerbated by the high costs of internet/data and the limited penetration of smartphones among Ugandans at the bottom of the pyramid – who are their main target.

“It is these challenges that are driving us to ensure that we create an online one-stop-centre for medical services,” she says.

“Every Ugandan should be able to digitally access a doctor, a midwife, nurses, and all the personnel that are available in a traditional healthcare facility. This should become the new normal.”

Namboozo says that My Doctor has assembled a team of professionals in various disciplines to handle all patient queries.

“We have been able to handle more than 1,000 patients through our digital platform, which is a good sign,” she says.

40 Days 40 FinTechs

My Doctor is the 15th participant in Season Four of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative by HiPipo to shine a light on emerging financial technology companies.

“In addition to the visibility provided by the 40 Days 40 FinTechs platform, it is also providing My Doctor with connections with players in the financial and digital space like banks, telecom companies, and other FinTechs that we can work with in providing a comprehensive one-stop center for digital health care,” Namboozo says.

HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya says the service being offered by My Doctor is very critical when it comes to the principle of including everyone.

“My Doctor offers hope for people in a country like Uganda where healthcare is way below the required standards. This is a unique product that makes it convenient and affordable to seek medical advice,” he says.

The 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative is organised in partnership with the #LevelOneProject, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner and Crosslake Technologies with generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

AgriShare is using FINTECH to connect Farmers to Agricultural resources. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 13

Vincent Kizito is living with his grandmother in Kabanyi village of Luwero district. The only property they own is a vast piece of land which is lying idle because they lack the resource to develop it.

But about a year ago, Kizito heard his friends talking about AgriShare APP, an online platform that can help landowners earn some money by renting out their land.

“My friends advised me to download the app and I told my granny about it.  We saw their services and contacted them. That’s how they hired our land,” he says.

“My granny is now able to pay our school fees. They have rented 23 acres of my granny’s land and farmers are using it to plant cassava, maize, and watermelons, among others,” he adds.

Kizito’s story is one of the over 40, 000 people who have benefited from AgriShare’s services that include connecting people who want to hire agricultural resources to those willing to rent them.

For instance, Kosea Asinguza is a Tractor operator who also joined the AgriShare platform recently and was able to hire out his tractor to plough 25 acres in Luwero.  

And he is happy with the service.

“We receive our payments from the bank or mobile money. It is really a good platform but they should improve on advertisement because most people are not aware of them,” he says.

According to Paul Zaake, the managing director and co-founder of AgriShare Uganda Limited, the core principle of this innovation is to empower smallholder farmers.

 “These are people growing crops and rearing livestock in villages. The challenge is that these people are producing less and this means that they sell less which translates into more poverty. They also eat less which leads to food insecurity,” he says.

He attributes this sorry cycle to a lack of key agricultural resources such as land, tractors, irrigation pumps, and farm workers.

“If you travel from Kampala to Gulu, Masaka, Jinja, and Karamoja, you will see a lot of idle land lying on the sides. Who’s owning this land? Is there potential to grow crops on the land?” he wonders.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 70 per cent of the land in Uganda is arable, but 40 per cent of this is lying idle. This is how AgriShare comes in.

“We connect people who own these resources to those who want them. We innovatively do this through our AgriShare App which is available on Play Store. You just download it and can share but also access the resources,” Zaake says.

The application so far has 40,000 active farmers and has facilitated over 50,000 transactions. Zaake says that what started as a pilot project in three districts has since been scaled up to become a national project.

To ease service delivery, AgriShare partnered with telecoms MTN and Airtel by integrating their APIs into the APP. This means that farmers can be able to make and receive payments with ease.

“Some farmers don’t have smartphones and we have taken steps to ensure that they can make payments through the merchants or Airtel and MTN. Of course, some corporate farmers pay through the bank, and those who access our offices and pay by cash,” he says.

40 Days 40 FinTechs.

Zaake says one of the challenges FinTechs face is a lack of exposure and visibility due to limited marketing resources. He is thus happy to be part of Season Four of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs which offers FinTechs across the East African region an opportunity to showcase their products and impact.

“At the end of the initiative, there’s usually an exhibition that provides an opportunity to interact with other actors within the sector. It also helps to collaborate and get more partnerships. This is key in Uganda where many actors were previously working in silos,” he says.

AgriShare is participant number 13 of the fourth season of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative.

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.

The initiative is organized 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.

Echolink’s SaccoMate Application is easing work for Islamic Banking institutions. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 12

The global migration from paper-work to digital systems over the past two decades has received both support and resistance almost in equal measure. The critics have fronted the jobs worry of replacing humans with machines in the employment world while the proponents cite efficiency, convenience, and cost-effectiveness.

All said and done, digital migration has made work easier across the world.

Let us take the example of Nadia Maluk Nanteza, who works in the Client Service section at Hijaz Finance, a Ugandan Sacco offering Islamic Finance services. Nanteza says Sacco’s book-keeping was a nightmare until they were introduced to a digital solution called SaccoMate, which has made her fall in love with her job over and over again.

“At Hijaz Finance, we offer Sharia-compliant services in the banking system. Our success is because of the SaccoMate ERP because it is a user-friendly app. Our clients can easily follow up on their deposits and account balances using their phones,” she says.

SaccoMate is a product of EchoLink Technologies, a software development, and FinTech company providing a comprehensive suite of digital solutions such as web designing, bulk SMS, custom software, and mobile applications, among others.

According to Alawi Mutebi, the founder and CEO of EchoLink Technologies, SaccoMate is one of their software products aimed at helping Saccos manage savings, interest-free loans, investments, agency banking, and E-banking using a customized Mobile App. The system integrates data from different activities seamlessly through its internet-based Web and Mobile App features accessed by managers and clients for easy decision-making through its analytical abilities.

“This software can operate several activities within an Islamic or Sharia-compliant Sacco from the point of onboarding clients to a point where they are doing their savings or withdraws, requesting loans, and other financial products provided by the Sacco,” he says.

“Islamic Financing being a new phenomenon in Uganda, we have so far on-boarded about 10 Saccos that are proving these sharia-compliant products to Ugandans,” Mutebi says they have processed more than one million dollars in value transactions and about 10,000 Sacco members are using their mobile application.

Mutebi notes that while Islamic finance is slow in Uganda, there is evidence that conventional bankers are slowly integrating the Islamic Finance model within their operations.

Mutebi further notes that beyond Saccos, the Mate ERP Suite is designed with different modules that are further customized to suit business operations including human resource, accounting, billing, payment collections, product management, membership management, manufacturing, project management, Point of Sale, and inventory management. The system features for different versions are enabled to be accessed by the users on desktop or mobile.

40 Days 40 FinTechs

Eco-Link is the 12th participant in Season Four of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative organised by HiPipo to highlight the life-changing stories of innovators across East Africa.

“I am glad to be part of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs because it gives us a platform to talk about our products and bring out our new ideas for the public,” he says.

HiPipo’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative has become a household name in the financial technology space across Africa. In the last three editions, more than 100 FinTechs have been showcased, highlighting stories changing people’s lives, especially in the under-served sectors.

According to HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya, user-centric products like SaccoMate are what make these innovators unique because they solve a specific problem.

“This year we are mainly looking at the impact of these FinTech innovations. We are happy to see such products which looked at a specific problem like Islamic Banking and came up with a solution that directly handles the operational challenges therein,” he said.

HiPipo runs the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative 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.

Kray Microfinance offers convenient digital loans. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 11.

We cannot overemphasize the power of digital media. Whether your interest is in sports, fashion, politics, or business, there is something for you in the digital marketplace.

So, when Mayimuna Nalumu started her business in beddings, she utilized digital marketing to supplement her physical shop in Kinawataka. And when things got tough following the Covid-19 pandemic, she still relied on social media for possible financial remedies.

“I was checking social media [for money lenders] and I landed on Kray Microfinance. I downloaded their App and filled in my credentials. An agent was sent to me and he visited my business. They gave me my first loan which lasted four months. I have been getting other loans – for three years now,” she says.

Now, that is convenience!

‘Sincerely they have helped me grow my business and I have even expanded and started a mobile money business on top of the beddings,’ she says, only praying that the App be translated to a language she understands better – Luganda.

Kray Microfinance is a digital financial services company that started as a money lending company in 2012 before it realized that digital microfinance is the real deal.

‘We designed and developed a mobile application that enables people to access fast, convenient, and reliable credit. Someone simply needs to go to the Google Play Store and download our App” says Raymond Peter Kiwanuka, founder and managing director of Kray Microfinance.

He says that once you download the App, one of Kray’s agents will contact you and pick up preliminary know-your-customer (KYC) information and then you will be passed for receiving loans.

“For those without smartphones, we developed a USSD where you can access credit,’ Kiwanuka says

Kiwanuka adds that their motivation ten years ago was to be able to provide credit to anyone available. As they went deeper into operation, they realized that there are quite several people who need credit and microfinance services and were unable to access the services. The reasons they gave were that access to banks and lenders were limited on top of bottlenecks in terms of the collateral required and documentation.

‘We came in to solve this problem by not requiring much collateral and someone does not need to come to our offices to access credit. To access the credit, the only thing required is your national ID and yourself,’ he says.

With this convenience, at least 7,800 people have taken more than 18,000 loans over time.

“Most of the transactions are by women. They are the most vulnerable regarding access to financial services,” he says.

Kray Microfinance, regulated by the Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority, does not work alone. They have several third-party players such as MTN and Airtel who help support the real-time transaction settlement.

‘For instance, if someone wants to withdraw money, it does not take more than five minutes to get it on their mobile money accounts. If it is a deposit, it is still the same thing because the platform is up and running 24/7,” he says.

Hope against scepticism

Kiwanuka says some of the challenges faced by digital financial services providers is slow adoption, fraud, and illiteracy.

He is however optimistic that these can be handled through engagements such as the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative by HiPipo.

‘The 40 Days 40 FinTechs is a platform that every digital financial provider should join because it has created awareness in the digital space, not only in Uganda but regionally. This is a platform where you meet like-minded people. If you want to grow, you must share with people to appreciate your product,” he says.

Kray Microfinance is the 11th participant in Season Four of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative that seeks to highlight the impact of FinTechs in the lives of under-served populations.

Ran by HiPipo, the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative has over the past three years helped more than 100 participating FinTechs benefit from useful Financial Inclusion tools and an introduction to the industry’s emerging technologies such as Mojaloop Open Source Software, and guidance from Level One Project foundational material. The skills gained from this initiative cover Level One Project Principles, Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (IIPS), inclusive finance, and FinTech in general.

‘This time we are showing the real impact of these FinTechs. Kray Microfinance is one of the participants touching on the issue of cheap and fast credit. Economies can grow faster if the low-income users can easily access credit,” said HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya, before sending his appreciation to the initiative’s partners including Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner, and Crosslake Technologies with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

EzyAgric saves Farmers with Buy-Now Pay-Later digital loans. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 10

In many parts of rural Uganda, accessing a bank is almost impossible. Even when you chance on one, the red tape involved in accessing credit is unbelievable, especially in agricultural financing.

So, farmers usually rely on SACCOs and money lenders to survive. Most of these however come with high interest rates and they never supplement their service with any extension services.

Faced with similar challenges, Vicky Ayugi Lakot, a dealer in agricultural farm inputs in northern Uganda, would always use her phone to look for any farming techniques and market information. But about three years ago, while browsing her phone, she landed on the EzyAgric mobile application that has since changed her life.

“I picked an interest in using the EzyAgric App and I downloaded it. I have used it since then because of the many services it offers such as farming techniques, inputs, saving, and loans,” she says.

EzyAgric is an Agriculture Technology company started in 2016 to provide end-to-end agricultural solutions to both farmers and businesses operating in the agricultural landscape in Uganda.

Lakot says that on top of the market information, EzyAgric has provided both convenience and accessibility, especially for rural dwellers like herself. For instance, because most people in villages use mobile money to transact, EzyAgric has introduced a standardized withdrawal charge which is way cheaper than the charges by telecom companies.

 “We use this platform to save money and EzyAgric has subsidized transaction charges…if you are withdrawing like 10 million and above, they have subsidized it to Shs 5,000 which favors us,” she explains.

According to Mercy Angella Nantongo, the product manager at EzyAgric, the primary inspiration for this platform is to make agriculture enjoyable because it remains Uganda’s backbone.

“So, we realised that farmers and Agro SMEs were struggling to find agricultural information and cheap and easy credit…. we came up with a platform where they can access digital payments, access credit and save money at the same time,” she says.

On top of finances, farmers are offered digital advisory and extension services, farm plans, how to keep record books, and access to genuine agro-inputs.

“With Easy Credits that we launched this year with Agro SMEs, we have been offering loans of between Shs 10,000 and Shs 2m. We are further working with more than 60 suppliers of genuine agro-inputs to deliver these inputs to farmers and agro-businesses across the country. In the past year, we added more than 17,000 farmers to our platform and sold to over 300 merchants and agro SMEs,” she says.

She adds that they have delivered extension services to more than 170,000 Ugandans through partnerships with entities like Airtel.

Lakot says that with EzyAgric’s buy-now-pay-later model, Agro merchants like herself are now able to stock their shops and have access to inputs on credit such that they can pay back within seven days. This is helping them reduce the cost of stock because when farmers come to purchase from them, they have the stock in-house.

“We also have real-time credit storing especially when our customer expresses a need for credit. We have them signup on their phones and their eligibility is checked in real-time. If they qualify for credit, they also get credit scores immediately. This means that as soon as you sign up for your profile, you can access EzyAgric credit,” Nantongo says.

40 Days 40 FinTechs.

According to Nantongo, the 40 Days 40 FinTechs was their launchpad for the buy-now-pay-later product.

“We were able to test the solution and prototype it with the FinTech [incubator program by HiPipo] and roll it out to the customers who are now enjoying the product,” she says.

Now in its fourth season, HiPipo’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative has become a household name in the financial technology space of the East African region. In the last three editions, more than 100 FinTechs have been showcased, highlighting stories changing people’s lives, especially in the under-served sectors.

This initiative is run by HiPipo in partnership with the Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner, and Crosslake Technologies with support generous from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Life-changing stories from more than 100 FinTechs have been highlighted by this initiative in the past three years.

Parents, Teachers laud PesaJet for School Fees Advance solution. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 9.

When the world was invaded by Covid-19 in 2020, global economies were brought to their knees. At a personal level, many individuals were left in survival mode, barely managing to feed their families.

Education was not saved too. Learners were forced to study remotely in bits and when schools were re-opened parents were required to pay school dues in advance, regardless of the situation. Many of these parents had lost their sources of income to the pandemic.

Joseph Kibunda, a parent at JESJONNY Day and Boarding Primary School, remembers that experience as if it was yesterday.

“Covid-19 sabotaged our sources of income. It was challenging for us to take our children back to school. Every time your children are sent back home for school fees, you would look useless before them,” he recalls.

As Kibunda was hustling to find school fees for his children, he learned about Pesajet, a digital platform that offers school fees in advance for parents.

“Pesajet indeed relieved us from the immense pressure schools used to subject us to through frequent phone calls from the head teacher demanding school fees,” he says.

According to Emily Sonia Nakabuye, Pesajet is a subsidiary company of E-Moments Limited, a multi-business company that deals in FinTech, media, commerce, and events.

“Pesajet is a payments business application that looks mainly at Education and Agriculture. For Education, we help parents make payments to school easily and fast. Under the agriculture sector, we have FarmMore where farmers can get market information and get loans to buy farm inputs online,” Nakabuye, the Co-founder of PesaJet says.

Nakabuye, who is also still in school, says the School Advance product has received more attention because it touches the core challenge of any ordinary Ugandan. However, she emphasizes that money is disbursed to those with the ability to pay it back.

“For School Advance, one has to enter simple KYC into the application, and to get the advance, you must enter a bit of added information like National Identification Number (NIN). If you have a basic feature phone, we are developing a USSD code so that you can use it,” she says. “We also have the payments app which you can find on the Google Play Store and Apple Store.”

School administrators are happy too with this initiative that has eased their school management routine.

“Our school fees policy is that a parent must have paid at least half the fees before the child reports back. But you are all aware that the post-Covid-19 era had a negative bearing on the incomes of our people. Sometimes, you find that not all parents can meet that requirement. So, PesaJet filled that gap by providing fees advance to these parents,” says Godfrey Kigongo Bwabye, the Head Teacher of JESJONNY Day and Boarding Primary School.

“At the inception of Pesajet in our school, several parents bought into the idea and subscribed. Currently, Pesajet is supporting about 20 per cent of the parents that qualify for these advances but we would like this number to increase,” he adds.


Nakabuye says that their biggest challenge is a lack of trust from Ugandans. Being a new platform formed just two years ago, many people are reluctant to subscribe to PesaJet.

For parents and school administrators, the challenge is the high-interest rates. But Nakabuye pegs this challenge to lack of funding.

“It is not easy for us start-ups to get seed capital to give to parents or farmers,” she says.

She is however grateful to the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative by HiPipo which is helping start-up FinTechs to develop social and technical capital through interactions with established players.

“It has helped us with mentorship, seed capital, among others. As FinTechs, we need to know each other and ways to connect with other people that are going to use our application and help Ugandans at large,” she says.

Now in its fourth season, the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative is run by HiPipo in partnership with the Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, and Crosslake Technologies with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Life-changing stories from more than 100 FinTechs have been highlighted by this initiative in the past three years.

HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya says stories like Pesajet are very gratifying given the fact that this initiative is a product of another project by HiPipo called Women in FinTech Hackathon.

“Our vision of Including Everyone is visible in PesaJet’s story. We want to empower these young innovators to come up with solutions that solve everyday problems. Their focus on school fees and agriculture touches the very core of the people at the bottom of the pyramid,” he said.

Hundreds of Employees benefit from Zofi Cash’s salary advances. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 8.

Building and construction is a tricky business, mostly because contracts in this sector are usually post-paid. This means that one has to primarily foot the bill for construction materials and wages. At the end of the day, many construction companies incur high-interest loans that conversely affect their profits.

James Andrew Mukuye was going through this predicament in his company J.A Living Spaces until he learned about Zofi Cash in November 2021 which has since saved him from workers’ salary advances.

Zofi Cash is an early wage access platform that enables employees to access their wages before payday or whenever emergencies strike and cannot wait.

Mukuye says this platform has worked miracles for his employees and now he doesn’t have to sweat about financing salary advances anymore.

“I would recommend Zofi Cash to all employers interested in the well-being of their employees and staff because it simplifies their life during the month. This improves their welfare and translates into better productivity,” he says.

According to, Joel Nabimanya, the Growth and Marketing Lead at Zofi Cash, this product, which is purely digital should be on every employer’s radar.

“The market problem that we are addressing is access to finances for people working in the corporate space. People get paid and within a week or two, their money is depleted and they are back to zero,” he says.

“Instead of running to money lenders and loan sharks who require collateral security and take days to process, we would rather have them access their wages earlier.”

On the employer’s side, they are required to sign up, enter a memorandum of understanding with Zofi Cash and provide a trading license, certificate of incorporation, and logo. At this stage, the employer can then approve/recommend an employee to get an advance and Zofi Cash will send it straight to the mobile wallet of the respective employee.

Nabimanya argues that one of the reasons why economies in the US and Europe have developed is because employees have access to their money much earlier. Some clock out and get paid on that very day while others get paid weekly, or every two weeks.

“This helps a lot for money to circulate in the economy. We came to break that 30-day pay cycle and bridge the gap between the paycheck and how often you can access it in the month,” he adds.

Nabimanya says that this service has received quick adoption because it touches the core of every employee. In the first year of operation, Zofi Cash transacted and processed more than Shs 1bn in advance loans. “This year, we have reached a billion shillings in a space of five months. We are growing at a rate of 24.6 per cent every single quarter,” he says.

The company has so far served more than 20,000 employees.

“Our clientele ranges from multi-national manufacturers like Regal Paints to marketing agencies like Zeus – The Agency and now beginning to partner with companies like Safe Boda and Rocket Health, among others. We also serve several startups and personal businesses,” he says.

40 Days 40 FinTechs

Nabimanya notes that one of the key challenges Financial Technology companies face in Uganda is adoption, brought about by limited saturation of smartphones and internet connectivity especially among people at the bottom of the pyramid.

He is however happy with the 40 Days 40 FinTechs program that is bringing together all players in the FinTech landscape in East Africa as well as empowering startups.

“When Zofi Cash knows that another startup is doing something that helps it grow, there will be space for collaboration. Startups can now generate more revenue from different sources. While building that synergy, you will be able to end the problems faced in the FinTech industry,” he says.

Zofi Cash is the 8th participant in Season Four of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative that seeks to highlight the impact stories of emerging FinTechs in the East African region.

According to HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya, the East African region has very many start-up FinTechs that are changing the lives of under-served communities.

“We want to show and tell these stories that are changing communities and economies. Convenient financial literacy and independence on the part of end-users is one of the ways we can realise an inclusive society,” he said.

The 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative is 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. Life-changing stories from more than 100 FinTechs have been highlighted by this initiative in the past three years.

Traders rave in market access through Merchandise Uganda. #40Days40FinTechs Season 4 Day 7.

Market access is one of the biggest challenges for businesses in Uganda, especially in the informal sector. Many highly depend on word-of-mouth references because they lack resources for proper marketing.

Some fail to breakeven and close shop while others stagnate at a small-scale level. It is estimated that Uganda has more than 2.5 million formal and informal businesses suffering with limited market as well as physical visibility.

Of these, 1.8 million informal businesses are run by women, youths and refugees. The majority of these cannot afford good premises and/or online visibility.

Back in 2020, Osman Salim Mwebaze, a founder of KLA Garden Spices that is available on the Merchandise Uganda platform found himself in this state of affairs. He would wake up every morning, open his premises in Kawempe-Lugoba and pray to God for customers for his products including spices for tea and food like chicken masala, pilawo masala, Tangawizi, and black pepper, among others.

Business was dim. Profits were hard to come by. Hope was lost – until he was told about Merchandise Uganda, an online marketplace.

“About three years ago, a colleague told me about Merchandise Uganda where we could advertise our products using the phone,” he says.

“Ever since I joined this platform, business has changed. Previously, it would be hard to find market but now I also get an opportunity to interact with other producers or manufacturers and buyers,” he adds.

What is Merchandise Uganda?

Merchandise Uganda is a free online marketplace where sellers and buyers meet and transact. When you have a business or products to sell, you just visit the Merchandise Uganda platform and open a shop. A seller/trader is required to provide some KYC in form of trader name or business name, location, contact details, good photos of products and videos of how the products work (if need be).

When someone wants a product, they go to the website or download the Merchandise Uganda App and search for the product they want. Then people with such a product will be listed and the client can contact them directly.

They also have partnerships with delivery companies. All suppliers are assigned to these logistics companies. So, when the client makes an order, the delivery company is notified to pick up the product and deliver it

According to Suzan Awori, the Business Administrator at Merchandise Uganda, since they opened shop in 2019, they have on-boarded more than 1,300 clients and created more than 100 direct and indirect jobs in 2021 alone.

“We have also trained more than 10,000 businesses on how to use digital marketing tools as well as women in local markets,” she says.

And traders are counting dividends. Mwebaze, for instance, says that since joining this platform, his weekly client traffic has jumped from five (5) to more than 20.

“There have been more orders coming in and it’s a tremendous platform,” he says. Mwebaze retained his physical shop along with his online shop.

He however advises the operators of this platform to improve the online payment system.

“There needs to be a mechanism where a client clicks on the product and payment is done promptly. Here, the supplier will be sorted and needs to make the product available for the client,” he says.

Awori says this is part of the plan, but it starts with building trust.

“Currently, we don’t handle digital payment but we have it in our future plan. We also encourage clients to do online payments as it saves time and is more secure. But, the main challenge here remains the trust between the buyers and sellers as many people are not comfortable to pay for something that has not reached their doorstep.”

Nonetheless, Mwebaze calls on Ugandan traders from all sectors to use such platforms to expand their market reach.

40 Days 40 FinTechs

Merchandise Uganda are participating in the 40 Days 40 FinTechs for the third time and Awori is aware of this initiative’s impact to their business growth.

“In 2022, we participated in the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative organized by HiPipo where we were awarded. We also on boarded more than 800 clients in that year,” she says.

According to HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya, Merchandise Uganda is one of the success stories that have shown the world the importance of online marketing.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, we all realised that you can get all supplies by the press of a button. Platforms such as Merchandise Uganda are an example of a marketplace on your phone,” he said.

Kawooya noted that Season Four of 40 Days 40 FinTechs intends to highlight these achievements by innovative minds across the East African region geared towards serving the people at the bottom of the pyramid.

This initiative is run by HiPipo in partnership with the Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, and Crosslake Technologies with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Life-changing stories from more than 100 FinTechs have been highlighted by this initiative in the past three years.