FinTechs urged to tap into Women entrepreneurs.

Our Reporter.

Ugandan Financial Technology (FinTech) companies have been advised to involve more women in the conceptualization, designing and development of Fintech products and solutions that can tap into the underserved market segment of Ugandan women entrepreneurs.

Damali Ssali, a Chartered Accountant, Business and Trade Development Expert, says that in a country where 48 per cent of all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are owned by women, it is paramount to develop financial inclusion solutions spearheaded by women.

“Over 70 per cent of informal cross border trader women need access to affordable fintech solutions. That segment is a ready market for innovative fintech solutions which can only be designed and developed through greater increase in women in fintech processes,” Ssali said while delivering a key note address titled Women in FinTech – the Case of Uganda at the maiden Women in Fintech Summit held at Sheraton Kampala Hotel on Friday 18th September under the theme fostering leadership, innovation and championing women empowerment.

The summit was the culmination of a week-long Women in FinTech Hackathon where 15 women-led teams met between 12th and 17th September 2020 to conceptualize and develop different financial inclusion products with special focus on women in areas such as payments, lending, saving, e-commerce, e-education and e-agriculture, among others.

Organized by HiPipo under the Include EveryOne program in proud partnership with ID8, Crosslake Tech, ModusBox, Mojaloop Foundation and the Level One Project; the Women in Fintech Hackathon and Summit sought to generate interoperable financial inclusion solutions for women, by women.

According to Ssali, this initiative is a step in the right direction. She, however, stressed that if Ugandan Fintechs are to design products and solutions that reflect the actual customers, then they must increase the number of women in Fintech from the current 10 per cent to 50 per cent!

At the recent 40-Days-40-Fintechs initiative organised by HiPipo, it was discovered that only 10 per cent percent of the participating Fintechs had women as their co-founders or part of their senior management.

“Therefore, having women in fintech in not only the right thing to do, and moral thing to do, but most importantly, it is the smart thing to do and the profitable thing to do!” she said.

Ssali’s argument was re-echoed by Hon Judith Nabakooba, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, who promised government support in development of ICT solutions targeting women.

 “As a sector we need to implement interventions that remove roadblocks to access and usage of ICTs by women such as reducing the digital divide between urban and rural dwellers by availing ICTs to the underserved communities; promoting the digital literacy of women so that more can use ICTs,” she said in a written speech read in her absensia by Judith Odio, a Commissioner from the Ministry of ICT.

In the same vein, Adama Diallo, the Mojaloop Foundation Director and Google Head of Partnership for the next billion users project in Africa, said in a recorded video that in a world where three quarters (¾) of purchases are done by women, Fintechs urgently need to be female-centric.

Further, Kristy Duncan, the founder and CEO of Women in Payments delivered a speech under the theme Funding Wellsprings for Women in Fintech.

Kristy Duncan noted that digital financial inclusion is vitally important as it will empower women and girls to a life of equal opportunity.

“We need more women in fintech to promote innovation. Because if we don’t include women innovators, then we are only innovating with half the population,” she said.

There was also a panel discussion targeting Financial Inclusion for women at the bottom of the pyramid and all panelists agreed that such women need a simple, convenient and fit-for-purpose mobile solution.

Moderated by Ritah Kabanyoro from Smart 24 TV; the panel had Primera Muthoni – Products Specialist at MTN Uganda, Doreen Lukandwa – Head of Marketing and Customer Experience at Beyonic Uganda, Penny Kamusiime – Manager, Customer Experience at YO Uganda Limited and Stella N. Lugalambi –co-founder of Hamwe East Africa Ltd.

SUCCESSFUL.

Nicholas Kalungi, the chief operation officer at HiPipo Foundation noted that the Women in Fintech Hackathon and Summit had succeeded both in objective and implementation. Besides being the first of its kind in Uganda, Kalungi noted that over 30 teams expressed interest in participating but only 15 were shortlisted for the Hackathon. These were Yo Uganda Limited, Team Spec, E-Moments, W-Sacco, Kanzu Code Ladies, GreenGrab, Achors, UgMart, Hack Girls, Team Kameeza, Alpteq ICT Solutions, Team Affinity, Sky Code, Team Time and Kuzimba Services. Save for one, the other 14 actively participated throughout the week.

The teams were taken through daily interactions with a pool of facilitators, mentors and assessors from all over the world who were either physically present or accessible remotely via ID8, Slack and other virtual platforms.  

They were then tasked to develop simple but relevant and ready-for-market financial inclusion products targeting women.

At the Women in FinTech Summit, five teams were identified as having performed better than the rest. These were Kanzu Code, E-Moments, Anchors, Affinity and Hack Girls.

The overall winners as scored by the jury were Kanzu Code Ladies and walked home with USD 2,000 to be used to put their product on the market. They developed an online bank to ease access to finance for local women. The other 4 teams that made the top five will together share USD 2,000.

L to R : HiPipo Chairman – Eng John Mark Ssebunnya, HiPipo Patron – Hon Eng. David Karubanga and HiPipo CEO – Innocent Kawooya do a scientific greeting at the Women in FinTech Summit held at Sheraton Hotel.

Meanwhile, HiPipo CEO – Innocent Kawooya applauded all participating teams as “all winners” and promised that there was a plan to create an innovation hub for all of them to ensure that their ideas are actualized and their products go to market.

At the summit, the HiPipo patron, Eng. David Karubanga – who is also the State Minister for Public Service and Member of Parliament for Kigorobya County applauded the organizers for thinking about Women as the world grapples to reduce the dominance of men in all sectors. He also promised government support in fulfilling this dream of enhancing women financial inclusion.

FACTFILE:

  • Globally, women entrepreneurs are 30% less likely to have access to sufficient funding for their businesses.
  • However, Women entrepreneurs continue to receive only a small fraction of the total capital available for SME investment across Africa generally and Uganda specifically.
  • In Uganda, bank lending is dominated by the corporate sector and typically excludes lending to those employed outside of the formal sector, or to small and micro businesses, areas in which women are more likely to be employed.
  • In 2018, Bank of Uganda reported in that informal cross border trade stood at USD595million and Uganda registered a trade surplus.
  • In 2015, a McKinsey and Company study indicated that companies that had a balanced and inclusive workforce were 33% more likely to have better than average profits.
  • A Boston Consulting Group study indicated that companies with a balanced and inclusive senior management teams had 19% higher revenues due to innovation

“People not only buy your product but buy into you. Be smart because you are the business yourself,” Doreen Lukandwa told Young Developers.

Doreen Lukandwa; the Head of Marketing and Customer Success at Beyonic Uganda has urged start-ups to pay special attention to both customers’ acquisition and retention as these two are core pillars of business success.

While delivering the final mentorship session at the just concluded Women in FinTech Hackathon held in Kampala, Doreen Lukandwa took the participants through the 7Ps of the market mix, that is to say; Product, Place, Price, Promotion, Physical Evidence, People, and Processes.

“Marketing is not something that you just pick from the back of your pocket and say that I need a marketing person. You can actually do the marketing yourself. Every day you talk about your business, you are marketing it. You must understand your customer. When you know who you want to speak to then you know how you are going to get your money back through pricing,” Doreen Lukandwa said, adding;

“People not only buy your product but they buy into you. Look smart; don’t take that for granted because you are the business yourself.”

Organized by HiPipo under its Include EveryOne program in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox, Mojaloop Foundation and Level One Project, this women focused hackathon has participants conceptualizing and developing different financial inclusion products with special focus on women in areas such as payments, lending, saving, e-commerce, e-education and e-agriculture among others. 

Day 5 was the final day of this week long Women in FinTech Hackathon. Teams pitched their products to the jury and now waiting for the final scores. The team with the best product will be announced tomorrow, Friday 18th September at the Women in FinTech summit at Sheraton Hotel.

Ends.

There is no ‘perfect product’. Go to Market but continue improving your product – Primera Muthoni tells Young Developers.

Primera Muthoni; a Products Specialist at MTN Uganda, Leading Innovator and Entrepreneur has today challenged young developers to always ensure that they execute a proper product roll-out plan because ‘Going to Market’ is as important as Product Development.

Primera Muthoni said this while delivering a mentorship session around Technology and Product Go to Market at the 4th day of the Women in FinTech Hackathon that is currently underway in Kampala, Uganda.

With over 10 years’ experience in Telecoms’ products develop and marketing, she shared special insights on when to roll-out a product, how to handle the first launch days and what happens thereafter with focus on the fact that there is no perfect product, and thus all products require upgrades from time to time.

“Not yet good enough to go to market? This is the story today. I have had my app in the market for six years. The day we went to market, it had like two, three features but we went to the market. We have been adding more features and functions all this time,” Primera Muthoni said.

She added: “I have SMSs that clock in my phone every hour. I have emails every single morning showing me statistics of the last seven days plus all sorts of notifications. This is because if there’s a problem with my product, I want to be the first person to see and know it. I am the owner of that product. I do not want the tech team telling me. I don’t want the developer telling me. I don’t want that stuff. I want to know and keep updated because I know that I can never create a product that is problem free completely.”

Organized by HiPipo under its Include EveryOne program in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox, Mojaloop Foundation and Level One Project, this women focused hackathon has participants conceptualizing and developing different financial inclusion products with special focus on women in areas such as payments, lending, saving, e-commerce, e-education and e-agriculture among others. 

Minus the mentorship session, the fourth day of the Women in FinTech Hackathon had teams get introduced to the Level One Principle of Level 1 Principle of Scheme Design & Governance, tackled MVP (minimum viable product) details, and forex cross country use case. The hackathon will culminate in to the Women in FinTech summit on Friday 18th September.

Important Dates.

  1. 12 September: Women in FinTech hackathon kicks off.
  2. 14th to 17th September: Women in FinTech hackathon underway.
  3. 18th September: Women in Fintech summit.  

Ends.

Financial Management is as important as Product Development – Damali Ssali.

Damali Ssali; a Ugandan Chartered Accountant, Financial Inclusion Advocate, Business and Trade Development Expert has today urged start-ups to prioritize both proper financial management and quality products development because both are critical to the success of any business.

Damali Ssali made these remarks while delivering a mentorship session themed Business Financing and Financial Management at the third day of the Women in Fintech hackathon that is currently underway in Kampala, Uganda.

“Financial Management is as important as Product Development. I know you are developers and very competent in that field. It is not surprising that almost none of the 14 teams here are working with a financial expert. While this is fine right now, it cannot continue like this,” Damali Ssali noted, adding:

“You need to understand your business figures. The value of your product, the time you have spent on it and everything you have injected in. Even if you have a good product, if you don’t manage your finances properly, then you will face break-even challenges.”

According to different studies, over 82 per cent of small businesses fail due to cash flow problems, a fact that makes prudent financial management a must if a business is to succeed.

Organized by HiPipo under its Include EveryOne program in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox, Mojaloop Foundation and Level One Project, this women focused hackathon has participants conceptualizing and developing different financial inclusion products with special focus on women in areas such as payments, lending, saving, e-commerce, e-education and e-agriculture among others. 

The third day of the Women in FinTech Hackathon saw teams work on APPs integrations with APIs, discussed the Level One Principle of System Design and went through the Digital Financial Service Provider (DFSP) Boarding Journey.  

The hackathon will culminate in to the Women in FinTech summit on Friday 18th September.

Important Dates.

  1. 12 September: Women in FinTech hackathon kicks off.
  2. 14th to 17th September: Women in FinTech hackathon underway.
  3. 18th September: Women in Fintech summit.  

Ends.

Be Confident and Accept Humble Beginnings – Prof Maggie Kigozi tells Young Developers.

Prof Maggie Kigozi; a Ugandan Business Champion, Investment Promotion Expert, Entrepreneur, Farmer, Feminist, Chairperson of the Africa Scout Foundation and Senior Consultant at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has today asked young developers to work on their confidence and also respect humble beginnings.

“Confidence is key for business success and for us women, it is sometimes lacking. I urge you to do your best to work on your confidence. Talk to each other, and challenge yourselves to get better,” Prof Kigozi, the chief mentor at the on-going Women in FinTech Hackathon said while addressing the over 50 participants today.

She added: “It is okay to start small and grow gradually. Look for capital from right sources such as family, friends’ groups, Saccos and banks. Please don’t go to the money lenders who simply ask for Car Cards or Land Titles in exchange for short term loans. That is not a good way of sourcing for business capital. I encourage you to have some patience, be able to save and use formal financial institutions such as banks. Business takes sometime unless you are very lucky.”

On the second day of the hackathon, the 14 teams showcased their Solution Design and Prototypes. They were also introduced to latest tools to use (such as Mojaloop), different APIs and use cases.

Organized by HiPipo under its Include EveryOne program in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox, Mojaloop Foundation and Level One Project, this women focused hackathon has participants conceptualizing and developing different financial inclusion products with special focus on women in areas such as payments, lending, saving, e-commerce, e-education and e-agriculture among others.  It will culminate in to the Women in FinTech summit on Friday 18th September.

Innocent Kawooya, the CEO of HiPipo thanked Prof Maggie Kigozi for always finding time to help young and small organisations. He noted that HiPipo is one of the beneficiaries of Prof Maggie Kigozi’s mentorship and business coaching. He presented a Special Fibre Mosaic Art Piece to her in appreciation of her contribution to developing Uganda.

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 all over the world, between May 13 and July 30th 2020.

Important Dates.

  1. 12 September: Women in FinTech hackathon kicks off.
  2. 14th to 17th September: Women in FinTech hackathon underway.
  3. 18th September: Women in Fintech summit.  

Ends.

Women in FinTech Hackathon underway.

13th, September, 2020: The first of its kind Women in FinTech Hackathon is currently underway in Kampala with 15 women led and dominated teams taking part.

The participants are conceptualizing and developing different financial inclusion products with special focus on women in areas such as payments, lending, saving, e-commerce, e-education and e-agriculture among others.  

As part of the project, all teams are interacting with a pool of facilitators, mentors and assessors pulled together from all over the world but mainly accessible remotely via ID8, Slack and other virtual platforms.

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

“We are excited to deliver this. Day One had all teams get introduced to latest financial inclusion tools, detailed discussions around level one principles, submission of each team’s problem statement and business case,” Nicholas Kalungi, the COO of HiPipo, noted on Saturday 12th September, the first day of this Hackathon.

He added; “The next four days are very crucial to the success of each team. The teams are doing their work and getting continuous guidance from facilitators, mentors and assessors both on site and remotely. We are convinced that this is the start of something amazing for all of the participants.”

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 all over the world, between May 13 and July 30th 2020.

Important Dates.

  1. 12 September: Women in FinTech hackathon kicks off.
  2. 14th to 17th September: Women in FinTech hackathon underway.
  3. 18th September: Women in Fintech summit.  

Ends.

15 Teams shortlisted for Women in FinTech Hackathon.

09th, September, 2020: As part of its on-going Financial Inclusion efforts in Uganda and across Africa, HiPipo is implementing the Women in FinTech hackathon and summit this month.

Today, 15 women led teams have been announced for the Women in FinTech hackathon slated for 12th to 17th September at Hive Colab, Kamwokya, with the exception of Sunday 13th.

The participants will for 5 days conceptualize and develop products for enhancing women financial inclusion in Uganda and across Africa. They will network with fellow Developers and Facilitators from across the World, receive Mentorship from Industry Players and Business Leaders, get access to latest infrastructure and technology in addition to taking home a variety of prizes.

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

“We received close to 30 team entries for this first of its kind women focused hackathon. Unfortunately, we couldn’t accommodate all of them this year. We thus shortlisted 15 teams that ticked all the project boxes,” Nicholas Kalungi, the Chief Operating Officer of HiPipo noted while announcing the teams, adding;

“Registration was the easier part of the project. The hard work will start on Saturday 12th as the teams will get down to developing ‘would be world changing and lifesaving products and services’. The 15 teams’ leaders and majority of their members are women. This is part of our contribution to addressing the huge gender diversity challenge that currently exists in the financial technology space.”

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.

The 15 Teams.

NumberTeam  NameTeam Leader
1E-MomentsEmily Nakabuye 
2Yo Uganda LimitedPenny Kamusiime  
3Team SpecEdith Ndagire 
4W-SaccoNassanga Jalia
5Kanzu Code LadiesAretha Kebirungi
6GreenGrabValentine Masicha        
7AchorsNanteza Nuriatt     
8UgMartDiana Nafuna     
9Hack GirlsHalima Bukirwa    
10Team KameezaSuzan Mbabazi    
11Alpteq SolutionsNamubiru Aminah    
12Team AffinityMusimenta Maria    
13Sky CodeMourine Tumuhaise    
14Team TimeEva Mirembe     
15Kuzimba ServicesEphrance Eunice Namugenyi     

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 kicks off.
  4. 14th to 17th September: Women in FinTech hackathon underway.
  5. 18th September: Women in Fintech summit.

Ends.

#40days40Fintechs: Yapheh is offering salon services at a click of a button.

Our Reporter.

If there is anything that the corona virus crisis has taught business people in Uganda and world over, it is the power of technology in providing goods and services.

With the lockdowns that cut across nations as countries implemented measures to curb the spread of the dreaded virus, the only businesses that managed to generate revenue are only those that adopted technology-supported channels to deliver goods and services.

Among them is Yapheh, a startup that offers salon and spa related services to customers including hair, nails, skins, massage or any other beauty service.

Launched recently, the person who needs the services only has to click a button and choose the service they want where they want to have it from – whether at their home, workplace or a salon.

Vicent Nemeyimana, the founder said that he was motivated to start such a platform after realizing that people were tired of the long queues in salons, waiting to be worked on while others were walking long distances to get to their favorite salon, which was inconveniencing

Additionally, some people, especially women, lacked salon time because of their busy schedules while others spa business owners were faced with shortage of clients. Salons also have poor data collection regarding clients, poor digital presence, overcrowded space and working on pressure.

Putting the services online provides salon owners with data that can be used for customer retention purposes and also enables salon owners to effectively plan, depending on the number of clients they have to attend to.

“With our solution, people no longer have to wait for long hours on benches, walk long distances to their favorite salon or suffering difficulties of finding salon time in case they are busy. You can now order all you need whether hair, nails, skin or massage services at a click of a button from wherever you are and the nearest salon will come to you,” Nemeyimana said.

He said there are thousands of salons and spa businesses, with the biggest percentage being in Kampala and most owners and users have access to smart phones and internet.

Being a multivendor, the startup has since had 20 different salons registered on its website in 20 locations in Kampala and 10 customers have already been served. Booking and payment is done online.

Yapheh is among the firms participating in the ongoing inaugural 40-days-40-FinTechs project organized 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 thanked Yapheh for coming up with a digital platform to address people’s beauty needs noting that the salon business has thousands of clients that are potential Yapheh clients.

He pledged that HiPipo will offer technical and advisory support to Yapheh so that they can improve their digital platform and also make their payment collections solution interoperable.

He also urged the startup to invest in systems that offer users excellent user experiences.

“No matter how much you market, if people don’t get good user experience you cannot achieve your objective. For instance, if 20 people wanted to visit your platform but found it down or they had a bad user experience, they will run away to where the experience is better,” Kawooya said.

#40days40Fintechs: JUMO is offering social impact financial products to the unbanked.

Our Reporter.

Reimagining finance in emerging markets by extending financial services to the underserved and the excluded has been JUMO’s goal since inception.

This explains why it chose to specialize in social impact financial products where small businesses that are financially excluded can access loans and savings products.

Launched in 2014, the company so far reached 16 million people, with 60% of them working under small and medium size enterprises (SMEs).

During the same period, they have disbursed over $1 billion and record over 51 million interactions with customers monthly.  Over 120 million people have been connected to financial choices while the cost of transaction has been reduced significantly.

JUMO has operations in over 10 countries including South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Pakistan, Tanzania and Zambia with plans to open shop in Benin, Ivory Coast and Nigeria by 2021.

They use advanced data science and machine learning to create the fastest and leanest financial services infrastructure, according to Joel Muhumuza, the country manager JUMO Uganda.

The stack, according to Muhumuza, has three main components including the Advanced Data Engine, the End-to-end banking technology and the Flexible-operating platform.

Under the Advanced Data Engine, the company uses rich individuals’ data obtained through mobile phones to create information that creates insights while the End-to-end banking technology is used to analyse and understand one’s behaviours to assess one’s creditworthiness.

 

Products

Using the stack, the Financial Technology Company (FinTech) partnered with stakeholders including mobile money service providers, to offer various financial inclusion products including credit, savings, insurance and Points.

Under credit, the FinTech offers entrepreneurs quick access to funds or asset finance while under the savings product, it builds and operates short-term, structured and long-term savings products that bear interest for savers.

Under its insurance product, it works with underwriters and insurance firms to create standalone or wrapped insurance products to safeguard people’s incomes, families, assets and businesses while under Points, it innovated a white label points programme that is used as a tool to drive and incentivise mobile transactions and empower people to build a personal digital financial profile.

It should be noted that JUMO, which is among those participating in the 40-days-40-FinTech initiative, also partnered with Airtel Uganda and launched Wewole, a micro-credit solution that provides a convenient way for Airtel Money customers and agents to access loan facilities via the Airtel Money platform.

“Our goal is to be a financial, digital bank that utilizes digital information to provide financial services,” Muhumuza said.

He alluded to the billions of people who still lack access to financial services, due to, among others, lack of the needed infrastructure.

“We thought there was need to connect entrepreneurs to the finance they need to grow and prosper,” he said, noting that the potential lies in people having mobile phones and mobile wallet that can transact and develop a financial identity.

40-days-40-FinTechs

The 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation 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 companies acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software

The HiPipo chief executive officer Innocent Kawooya expressed his excitement about JUMO’s financial inclusion efforts, saying that its products are taking a lead in democratising lending and borrowing.

“We are excited to interact with JUMO, a company that is enhancing financial inclusion in over 10 countries and serving more than 16 million customers.”

“While many have not heard about the word JUMO, I am sure they have interacted with Wewole by Airtel Uganda because thousands of Ugandans are using Wewole to get micro credit anywhere, anytime,” Kawooya said.

He noted that JUMO is implementing the core Financial Inclusion principles of Equality to Access, Affordability, Reliability and Availability.

JUMO’s background

JUMO was founded in 2014 in London by Andrew Watkins-Ball. The founding team started working to prove that data can be used to predict the financial behaviour of millions of people without access to finance.

Credit risk, engineering and other capabilities were then developed with industry-leading talent.

The first ecosystem partnerships were established with Tigo, Airtel and MTN to bring short-term loan products to people and small businesses in Kenya, Zambia and Uganda.

In 2016, the company had its first funding partner – Letshego Bank, Ghana – introduced to the operating platform, enabling payment and capital providers to work together to build products.

The following year, it won the Mastercard Foundation Clients at the Centre Prize, recognizing its outstanding value for customers. Additionally, Google selected it, alongside five other African startups, for its Launchpad Accelerator programme, winning The AppsAfrica Changing Africa Award, in recognition of the game changing initiatives across Africa.

Enabling Finance is playing a role in democratizing financial services.

Our Reporter.

Making financial services available to more people by lowering costs and barriers to access is increasingly becoming a key focus area for Financial Technology Companies (FinTechs) that seek to ensure financial inclusion for all.

Their transformative power owes to their ability to serve the once financially excluded people, using technology to facilitate mobile payments, provide loans, bill payments and money transfers, among others.

One of the entities with potential of becoming prominent in that space is Enabling Finance, a Najjera-based money lending finance company providing affordable and easier financial services to the public.

The firm started in 2014, offering personal secured loans to university students before venturing into short-term market loans.

However, this saw the company suffer a major setback, as most borrowers did not repay the loans, pushing the company in liquidity challenges.

This, however, did not water down their spirit as they bounced back in 2017 with an innovative solution dubbed FINABLR, tier IV money lending network application that connects diligent borrowers to professional moneylenders under a friendly and enabling environment.

This product, according to Luke Yyeyo, Enabling Finance founder and chief executive officer, has proved to be a game changer to both individuals and businesses that want easy access to loans.

“As we were working to grow our portfolio in 2017, we realised that technology was the solution to lending issues faced in the past and that is when we developed FINABLR,” Yyeyo said.

FINABLR, according to Yyeyo, is flexible, allows private individual lenders to partner with the company since the country’s law does not allow unregistered lenders to get involved in the lending business and any one can apply for a loan.

Additionally, it prepares clients that could be ineligible for the current loan for future financial acceptance, enables lenders to fill in gaps for other lenders that cannot meet their professional take and also offers affordable interest rates to borrowers.

The company’s goal is to provide refined financial services using state of the art technology and methods, delivered through world-class customer care so as to economically empower the population.

To apply for a loan, one is on boarded on the FINABLR application through a website; one submits the loan application on the app, indicating the purpose for which they want the funds.

Enabling Finance is one of the financial players taking part in the 40-days-40-FinTechs project, an initiative of 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.

40 days-40-FinTechs project

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.

“We are pleased to be part of the 40-days-40-FinTechs project. As a young company, such engagements help us improve our product and platforms. We are able to learn best FinTech practices,” Yyeyo said.

He added: “We have had a great discussion about Mojaloop and interoperability; our developers have their work cut out. New technologies are available. It is up to us to make good use of them. I thank HiPipo for organizing this.”

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya applauded Enabling Finance for democratizing money lending, saying that it creates an ecosystem that allows anyone to borrow and lend freely, which will in turn result in a democratic network that will change the narrative, especially about moneylenders as being shrewd people.

“We are talking about an economy that includes everyone; so we are talking about solutions that are enabling the last man at the bottom of the pyramid to access financial services,” Kawooya said.

He added: “We are speaking to how we can collaborate with technology providers and cut your costs and then have interoperable solutions to make it easy for lending from anywhere using technology. It is not something that can be done in one day because it is a long journey but as long you plan ahead of time, you get there.”