2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon participants make final presentations

Our Reporter.

After over a week of ideation, designing, developing, and coding, the 2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon reached its climax on Thursday 15th September with the 20 teams presenting their final minimum viable products (MVPs) to the judges.

Day five was very tense and action-packed as participants prepared for the final pitches. The 20 teams that made the final submissions were Her Duuka, Funa House Property, Tawaza Digital Varieties, Lands Resource, Oliwaa Events, Lima Pesa, Jibu, Academic Personal Assistant (APA), The Platter, Rental Pro, Sayl Kare, E-Truck Service, Insure Wallet, The Fintech Devotee, Tegeka Investment Club, Go Green, Autopay, Elevation, Sueno and Izere Education.

According to Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO, all teams met the minimum expectations of the Hackathon as they were able to have working MVPs and also integrated payment solutions from third parties.

“We have been amazed by what we have seen today. The twenty teams have really put in a lot of effort and extra hours to reach this far. From their presentations and product tests, you can clearly see great solutions,” Kawooya said, adding:

“It will be interesting to see how they move to the next steps in their products’ development. As prototypes, they are good, but then they have and in fact, must put in extra effort to complete the job at hand. We promise to continue supporting them in every way possible.”

On her part, Cleopatra Kanyunyuzi, the Hackathon Lead Facilitator and CEO of Club Tangaza noted that as a trainer, she was excited to see how the teams improved each passing day. She thanked the participants for their commitment to the hackathon and the broader women inclusion drive.

“It has been a busy week but yes, the teams have been very committed. You can see that each team has had tremendous growth compared to when they came here. On behalf of the facilitators, we wish all the teams the best for the future. Let them continue with their products even after the Hackathon,” Kanyunyuzi noted.

Now in its third edition, the Women in FinTech Hackathon is part of HiPipo’s commitment towards empowering women with the required digital and financial inclusion skills so that they can go out there; innovate, prosper, earn and develop their families and communities. 

The winners of the 2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon will be unveiled on Friday 16th September at Mestil Hotel and rewarded.

“We are all set for the Women in FinTech summit, which is a culmination of the Women in FinTech Hackathon. All participants are looking forward and optimistic about winning. The top 5 teams will be announced and rewarded at the summit. Even so, all participants will take home something because they are all winners. I take this early opportunity to congratulate all of them,” Charlotte Neeza, the HiPipo FinTechs Events Manager noted.  

The Women in FinTech Hackathon, Summit, and Incubator project is presented by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop, ModusBox, CyberPLC Academy, and Crosslake Technologies and generously supported by Gates Foundation.

Women in FinTech Hackathon participants introduced to Mojaloop Open Source Software

Our Reporter.

Day three of the ongoing Women in FinTech Hackathon was action-packed, with participants working on their products’ MVP phase one.

In products’ development, MVP stands for a minimum viable product. According to ProductPlan, a minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with enough features to attract early-adopter customers and validate a product idea early in the product development cycle. The MVP is a critical milestone in the product development eco-system.

Minus the MVP, the participants were also introduced to Mojaloop Open Source Software.

According to Sam Kummary, one of the developers of Mojaloop, this software was designed to provide a reference model for payment interoperability. It can be used to overcome barriers that have slowed the spread of digital financial services.

In his presentation, Kummary took the teams through how developers and innovators can freely use the Mojaloop core code, join the community, and build inclusive, real-time payment systems to help support economies. He shared in-depth insights on the Mojaloop scheme, hub and platform and the roles that each play.

“Mojaloop can be used to create interoperable payment solutions in areas such as person-to-person transfers, payroll, and other bulk payments, account management and fraud monitoring,” Kummary said.

On his part, Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO noted that innovators can use Mojaloop to develop secure and interoperable payment systems that are acceptable globally.

“Payments Schemes around the world are in the process of implementing or considering implementation, of Mojaloop-based interoperable payments systems. Women in FinTech Innovators can use Mojaloop open-source software to support financial services companies, government regulators, and others taking on the challenges of interoperability and financial inclusion,” Kawooya said.

Still on Day 3, the teams were mentored on Product Management. This session was delivered by Mercy Angela Nantongo, the EzyAgric Product Manager.

Nantongo noted that Product Management is a continuous process that ensures that both the product owners and customers get the best results possible.

“Product Management is important as it is the first interaction with customers before any issues arise. It plays a key role in product marketing at initiation, before you build, while building the product, and after you complete the product. Product Management ensures that you are on top of the market trends. It ensures that your customers get the best quality of your product,” Nantongo said.

Organized by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, ModusBox, CyberPLC Academy, and Crosslake Technologies and generously supported by Gates Foundation, the 2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon has brought together 20 women-led teams this year. The week-long Women in FinTech Hackathon will culminate into the Women in FinTech summit on Friday 16th September at Mestil Hotel, Kampala; where the best performing teams and individuals from across East Africa will be announced and receive their share of the USD 10,000 collective prize money. The best teams will also automatically qualify for the Women in FinTech Incubator program that will run until January 2023.

We are equipping Women with skills and right tools to transform Society

Our Reporter.

Day Two of the 2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon concluded with Teams completing their Solution and Prototype designs.

According to Boston Technology, a Solution Design is the first step towards the eventual physical deployment of any solution. It is a visual blueprint for what needs to be built out. On the other hand, a prototype design is an early sample or a visual model of a product created to test a concept or process.

With these two tasks completed, the teams are all optimistic that they will be able to each deliver a minimum viable product – MVP at the end of the hackathon.

According to the HiPipo CEO, Innocent Kawooya, the Women in Fintech Hackathon doesn’t only address the gender diversity challenge in the technology industry but also empowers women with the right skills and tools to think, design, innovate and transform societies.

“Seeing the teams getting down to serious work is a great deal for us because it shows how far we have come; from having a dream, putting it on paper as an idea and now executing it. The same process is what all innovators must go through to actualize their products,” Kawooya said, adding;

“The facilitators and mentors in this hackathon are equipping participants with the required technology skills and also introducing them to real life realities that they must overcome if they are to succeed.”

Now in its third edition, the Women in FinTech Hackathon is part of HiPipo’s commitment towards empowering women with the required digital and financial inclusion skills so that they can go out there; innovate, prosper, earn and develop their families and communities.  This year’s edition has gathered 20 Women-led teams of between two to four members each.

It is presented by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop, ModusBox, CyberPLC Academy and Crosslake Technologies and generously supported by Gates Foundation.

Minus the ‘FinTech’ technical work that the hackathon is about, the participants were on day two mentored by Cynthia Mpanga, a renowned public relations practitioner and corporate affairs manager at Standard Chartered Bank, Uganda. Her mentorship was focused on personal branding, public relations, and communication.

The week-long #WomeninFinTech Hackathon will culminate into the Women in FinTech summit on Friday 16th September at Mestil Hotel, Kampala; where the best performing teams and individuals from across East Africa will be announced and receive their share of the USD 10,000 collective prize money. The best teams will also automatically qualify for the Women in FinTech Incubator program that will run until January 2023.

We are learning, innovating, and hope to win – 2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon participants

Our Reporter.

With the 2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon underway, participants are thrilled and full of hope that they will at the end of it be better people; ready to transform the world through financial technology innovations.

They attribute this to the detailed daily program designed by the organizers that mixes learning technology, developing solutions, and improving personal skills.

Winfred Nandawula, the Team Leader of Tawaza Initiative notes that the Hackathon is helping them breakdown huge concepts into realistic and achievable products.

“One of the biggest issues that has been out there is that innovators have so many things that are going on and have a wide scope of things they are dealing in. But today we are here to learn that you can scale down a problem into something narrower and more achievable. Most of the teams are here to win, learn, innovate and solve community problems,” Nandawula noted.

Now in its third edition, the Women in FinTech Hackathon is part of HiPipo’s commitment towards empowering women with the required digital and financial inclusion skills so that they can go out there; innovate, prosper, earn and develop their families and communities.  This year’s edition has gathered 20 Women-led teams of between two to four members each.

Sophie Nabaale, a participant from Team Sueno- Wetase noted that even though she has been at a hackathon before, the Women in FinTech Hackathon is different from the first one she attended as it teaches both innovation and life skills.

“For example, today, we learnt about financial management, which is a key topic for individuals and businesses. We are here to learn all that is there to learn and I expect to win regardless of the tight competition. But even without winning, I am sure that what I will get from here will impact so much on me and my team at large,” Nabaale said.

Day One of the Hackathon saw teams complete their Problem Statements and Business Cases in addition to being introduced to Level One Project principles. They were also mentored on Finance Management by Damali Ssali, the chief programs and projects officer at Private Sector Foundation Uganda, and Personal Growth by Wendy Nanfo, the COO Kuda Bank (Uganda).

Novita Nyirarukundo, a participant from Kisoro District and Team Leader of Land Resources observed that even though this was her first hackathon, the first day surpassed her expectations.

“We have been introduced to the latest financial technology and new ways of innovation. I have been inspired by the different speakers such as Madam Wendy who mentored us on personal growth. I have realized that success and rest do not sleep together. In all, we are learning and competing for the top prize,” she said.

The 2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon seeks to close the Gender Gap in Access to Technology, Skills, and Usage of Digital Financial Services. It will provide women innovators and students an opportunity to use digital financial technology to explore business concepts. The hackathon will introduce participants to useful tools and offer an introduction to technologies such as Mojaloop Open-Source Software, and guidance from Level One Project foundational material. The skills gained from this initiative will cover Level One Project Principles, Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (IIPS), Inclusive Finance, and FinTech in general.

According to Cleopatra Kanyunyuzi, the Project’s Lead Facilitator and also co-founder of Club Tangaza, the Hackathon is key in closing the gender diversity gap that is currently experienced in the technology industry.

“Technology has been around but it is a male-dominated space. So when HiPipo comes up with such a project, it is trying to onboard more women in this space. The women that are being trained here will in the future contribute to not only closing the gender gap but also changing their communities. This is a learning vehicle that is enriching the ladies and giving them a push to venture and actively participate in the Financial Technology industry,” Kanyunyuzi explained. 

The week-long Women in FinTech Hackathon will culminate in the Women in FinTech summit on Friday 16th September at Mestil Hotel, Kampala; where the best performing teams and individuals from across East Africa will be announced and receive their share of the USD 10,000 collective prize money. The best teams will also automatically qualify for the Women in FinTech Incubator program that will run until January 2023.

The Women in FinTech Hackathon, Summit, and Incubator project is presented by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop, ModusBox, CyberPLC Academy, and Crosslake Technologies and generously supported by Gates Foundation.

#LevelOneProject: 20 Teams make final shortlist for 2022 #WomenInFinTech Hackathon

Kampala, Uganda. Following the completion of both entry submission and review process, we are excited to unveil the 20 teams that are going to take part in the 2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon, scheduled for 10th to 15th September 2022. The 20 teams have been shortlisted from over 50 submissions received.  

The successful teams will work on FinTech products and solutions in areas such as Agri-Tech, E-Commerce, Payments, Savings and Loans, Edu-Tech, and Fundraising.

“We are happy to introduce this year’s participants. The teams shortlisted come from allover the region including a team from Rwanda and Tanzania. Other teams are traveling from as far as Kisoro. This clearly indicates that the project has continued to grow and is attracting more quality. We have had pre-hackathon discussions with all the team leaders and can confirm that they are all ready to innovate, and transform their communities,” Charlotte Neeza, the HiPipo FinTechs Events Manager explained, she added;

“This announcement sets the stage and puts the Hackathon wheels into motion. On our side, we are set to receive all participants, starting Saturday at 7 am. Those traveling from far are set to arrive on Friday.”  

Now in its third edition, the Women in FinTech Hackathon is part of HiPipo’s commitment towards empowering women with the required digital and financial inclusion skills so that they can go out there; innovate, prosper, earn and develop their families and communities. 

The 2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon seeks to close the Gender Gap in Access to Technology, Skills, and Usage of Digital Financial Services. It will provide women innovators and students an opportunity to use digital financial technology to explore business concepts. The hackathon will introduce participants to useful tools and offer an introduction to technologies such as Mojaloop Open-Source Software, and guidance from Level One Project foundational material. The skills gained from this initiative will cover Level One Project Principles, Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (IIPS), Inclusive Finance, and FinTech in general.

“Our ultimate objective is to help achieve a leveled playing field by guiding the African continent into fully maximizing its digital dividend and potential, with the entire populace equitably participating in the use, leverage, dissemination, innovation, adoption, and adaptation of secure digital financial services to improve their lives and livelihoods,” Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO noted.

The Women in FinTech Hackathon will culminate into the Women in FinTech summit on Friday 16th of September, where the best performing teams and individuals from across East Africa will be announced and receive their share of the USD 10,000 collective prize money. The best teams will also automatically qualify for the Women in FinTech Incubator program that will run until January 2023.

The Women in FinTech Hackathon, Summit, and Incubator project is presented by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop, ModusBox, CyberPLC Academy, and Crosslake Technologies and generously supported by Gates Foundation.

In case of any queries, reach out via socialweb@HiPipo.com

NOTEAM NAMETEAM LEADER
1HERDUUKATABITHA ATWIINE
2FUNA HOUSE PROPERTY MATERSKIYIGA MARION OLIVEA
3TAWAZA DIGITAL VARIETIESWINFRED NANDAWULA
4LANDS RESOURCENOVITA NYIRARUKUNDO
5OLIWAA EVENTSZAHARA NAMWANJE
6LIMA PESAMARIA VIVIAN AWORI
7JIBUNAKISOZI MASTULAH SARAH
8ACADEMIC PERSONAL ASSISTANT (APA)DIANA NAJJUMA
9THE PLATTERNAMULWA PATRA HIGENYI
10RENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM(RMS)AMASE STISHA MARGRET
11SAYL KAREVICTORIA NAKITTO
12E-SERVICEJOSEPHINE NANKUNDA
13INSURE WALLETEVELYNE NAKANWAGI
14THE FINTECH DEVOTEETUSIIME EMILY QUEEN
15TEGEKA INVESTMENT CLUBSHAMIM NAKAYIZA
16GO GREENMARIAM HAVILLAH MIREMBE
17AUTOPAYBETTY HAPPY
18ELEVATIONRACHEAL IPERU
19HER ICT SKILLSMUKAYIRANGA JANE
20IZERE EDUCATIONSHAMIM NIRERE

Ends.

HiPipo unveils the 2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon, Summit, and Incubator; on-boards participants from across East Africa.

Kampala, Uganda: When you empower one woman, you have in fact supported an entire family. This is no longer an optimistic opinion but a statement of fact.

This is why HiPipo is keen to empower women with the required digital and financial inclusion skills so that they can go out there; innovate, prosper, earn and develop their families and communities. 

In both 2020 and 2021, HiPipo deliberately and in full adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols implemented the Women in FinTech Hackathon, Summit, and Incubator. The cardinal purpose of these inter-twined initiatives was, and still is, to champion women’s financial inclusion through active participation in the initiation, development, and rolling out of financial technology products that are well tailored to serve women and everyone. And indeed, the HiPipo Women In FinTech initiative is exceptionally supporting efforts toward closing the Gender Gap in Access to Technology, Skills, and Usage of Digital Financial Services.

The impact of these initiatives is out for all to see. More than 100 women have been trained and equipped with the latest FinTech skills, and at least 10 products have been initiated and taken to the market by Women in FinTech participants, in addition to individual participants and teams getting seed capital from both the project and external contributors to further pursue their ideas.

This success is thanks to HiPipo’s thoughtful Women Inclusion efforts and the commitment of its partners: Level One Project, Mojaloop, ModusBox, and Crosslake Technologies. Even so, all this may have remained a good paper concept or a somewhat deferred dream had it not been for the generous support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This story is set to continue this year with the Women in Fintech Hackathon and Summit finale slated to run from 10th to 16th September 2022 while the Incubator program will run from late October to the end of January 2023. This year’s edition will be bigger and better with the entry of CyberPLC Academy as a strategic implementation partner.

The 2022 Women in FinTech Hackathon seeks to close the Gender Gap in Access to Technology, Skills, and Usage of Digital Financial Services. It will provide women innovators and students an opportunity to use digital financial technology to explore business concepts. The hackathon will introduce participants to useful tools and offer an introduction to technologies such as Mojaloop Open-Source Software, and guidance from Level One Project foundational material. The skills gained from this initiative will cover Level One Project Principles, Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (IIPS), Inclusive Finance, and FinTech in general.

“Our ultimate objective is to help achieve a leveled playing field by guiding the African continent into fully maximizing its digital dividend and potential, with the entire populace equitably participating in the use, leverage, dissemination, innovation, adoption, and adaptation of secure digital financial services to improve their lives and livelihoods,” Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO noted.

On-boarding East Africa participants.

The 2022 edition will kick off with a virtual East African round that will have participants from across the region taken through daily training and assessment for 5 days (29th August to 2nd September), with the top team from each country automatically qualifying for the grand finale to be held in Kampala.

Interested participants from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan will register for the virtual round between 17th and 26th August while Ugandan participants will submit their entries from 20th to 29th August.

The hackathon is open to women-led teams of 2 to 4 members, with each team having at least 67 percent female composition.

“We are excited about this year’s edition. The past two editions have been highly impactful with different participants being able to take their innovations to the market while others are in the process. The third edition is going to be bigger and better as we welcome East African participants. We are indebted to our partners, and supporters and commit that we shall not stop because financial inclusion is a right for everyone,” Kawooya noted.

The Women in FinTech Hackathon will culminate in the Women in FinTech summit where the best performing teams and individuals from across East Africa will be announced and receive their share of the USD 10,000 collective prize money. This will be in addition to automatically qualifying for the Women in FinTech Incubator program that will run until January 2023.

So ladies; there you have it. Get ready to register, prepare to develop, learn and shine. More details will be shared in due course.

In case of any queries, reach out via socialweb@HiPipo.com

Little has transformed from a ride-hailing platform to a super APP for your daily needs

Our Reporters.

At the start of July 2016, news broke that two Tech giants had come together and devised an African Transport solution. The Tech Giants were Craft Silicon and Safaricom. The Transport solution was Little Cab; a ride-hailing APP that was launched in Kenya to directly compete with the likes of Uber, and Taxify – that has since rebranded to Bolt.

According to Kamal Budhabhatti, the Little Founder and CEO, they introduced this APP to cushion African drivers from/against the several challenges they faced with foreign ride-hailing companies.

“Couple of years back, when ride-hailing Apps from the West were dominating the market, the driver’s interests were not being addressed. Every driver had an issue with how these platforms were operating. We felt that there was a need to come and address the challenges that these drivers were facing. That is how Little was formed,” Kamal said, adding;

“Today, the drivers’ community is really supporting Little because we listen to them and design products that are a win-win for both the drivers and riders. We have rolled out products specifically designed for women entrepreneurs. For example, on Little, we have a special product for women drivers.”

Six years later, Little has grown into a reliable ride-hailing platform with over 100,000 registered drivers and serving close to one million clients in Kenya alone. It has also since expanded to other countries like Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia and is now headed to West Africa.

Motivated by this success, Little has now evolved into a super APP that addresses a variety of day-to-day needs. Its latest APP version offers competitive and quality services in logistics, payments, money transfers, transport, entertainment, and e-commerce.

“What we have realized over the years is that the mobile phone capacity of an African consumer is always a challenge. The customer can’t have one APP for rides, one for deliveries, one for payments and one for entertainment. So, we thought about bringing all these services together under one App, with great customer experience,” Kamal explained.

He added: “That is why we have now transformed Little from just a ride-hailing platform to your every day, everything App. With Little, you can now order for a ride, food, groceries, pharmaceutical products, transfer money and make payments among others.”

Kamal notes that Kenya and East Africa’s FinTech industry is very competitive and fast-growing as several innovators continue to think and develop solutions for the issues addressing their communities. He nonetheless notes that the biggest challenge to the industry is the high transaction costs.

“When you send money from one account to another, when you buy airtime, when you make a bill payment, and when you pay a merchant, the transaction costs are relatively high. We believe that this transaction cost can be reduced,” Kamal noted.

40 Days 40 FinTechs.

Little is participant number 40 in the 2022 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative organized by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop, Crosslake Tech and supported by the Gates Foundation.

Little features as part of 40 Days 40 Fintechs initiative’s financial inclusion strategy that now covers the entire East Africa. More impactful Fintechs from all over the region are set to be showcased this year.

Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO explained that players like Little are key to shaping the future of Africa.

“The only little thing about Little is the English word little. Away from that, Little is doing amazing things for drivers and riders. It has now expanded its reach to cover a wider market. I have confidence in the Little Leadership and Team so I am sure that they have carefully scaled from ride-hailing to a super App. Their programs for women and youth are amazing,” Kawooya said.

Now in its third edition, the HiPipo #40Days40FinTechs has quickly grown into one of the world’s premier showcase events for the innovations that are enabling ever more people to join the digital economy space.

Kamal appreciates the great Financial Inclusion advocacy role that HiPipo is playing through platforms like 40 Days 40 FinTechs. He advises that such platforms are key to ending the ‘silo-mindset’ among innovators and ensuring that more FinTechs succeed.

“40 Days 40 Fintechs will help the FinTechs to shine. There are a lot of talented brains out there and a lot of FinTech companies outside there that are not well represented. I think this platform is where they can come and demonstrate their innovations. I applaud you guys for the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative.” Nicknamed Kenya’s Bill Gates by the Forbes magazine, Kamal Budhabhatti is also the founder of Craft Silicon – a Kenya-based Software company that currently serves over 300 institutions and clients globally.

Xente is using FinTech to empower businesses and enable payments

Our Reporter.  

The outbreak of Covid-19 has forced many businesses to migrate from the manual way of doing things to digital solutions.

Businesses that used to manage their expenses manually using cash or cheques are now using mobile money which ultimately saves time and creates easy tracking mechanisms.

According to Lyn Tukei, the Xente head of marketing and communications, Covid-19 has accelerated the global shift to automated, paperless, and cashless finance processes.

Xente is a Financial Technology company (FinTech) that helps businesses simplify finance by offering automated solutions with a goal to help African businesses get connected to the global economy.

“One of our key features is issuance of visa cards to businesses. They can be either virtual or physical cards. We are actually the first FinTech to issue visa cards in Uganda, through our partnership with Visa,” she says.

Xente also facilitates mobile money disbursements by companies. Tukei says this helps businesses to approve every payment, track every transaction in real-time, manage money across teams, branches, and/or countries, and sync data with their accounting platforms.

“If you have remote teams, instead of going to a mobile money agent, you simply log onto the Xente platform and send money in seconds. It can be mobile money, it can be airtime, it can be any bill,” she says, adding;

“We also help people make bank transfers using Xente. You can pay salaries. You are also able to collect payments from wherever. With this platform, you are able to get statements whenever you do a transaction.”

Tukei, who is enthusiastic about women inclusion in the Tech sector, is happy that the FinTech industry in Uganda is maturing steadily, as seen with more companies opening shop and regulations coming in place.

40 Days 40 FinTechs.

Xente are the 36th participants in this year’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative that offers Fintechs useful 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.

Tukei appreciates the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative for profiling different players in the market who are providing unique solutions to various problems in society.

“The initiative has also helped in letting the world know how financial technology can turn around the country and the continent at large,” she says.

HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya says this year’s edition is cementing the achievements of the previous editions – where over 60 FinTechs have been transformed – but also building on them to leverage digital financial inclusion in East Africa and beyond.

“Xente is playing a critical role in our migration to a cashless economy. We are also happy to see that big companies like Visa are partnering with local FinTechs to simplify digital payments. This will further make our dream of Including Everyone a reality,” he said.

The #40Days40FinTechs platform is run under HiPipo’s Include Everyone program that also encompasses other initiatives such as FinTech Landscape Exhibition, Women in FinTech Hackathon, Summit & Incubator and the Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit and Digital Impact Awards Africa. The platform aptly provides a setting for the various players and stakeholders involved in digital and financial technology to exhibit their products & Services and also share their ideas on how more of us, especially those unserved and underserved by the present financial systems, can be brought into the fold.

MFS Africa is facilitating digital financial transactions in over 34 countries

Our Reporter.  

One of the biggest bottlenecks of transferring funds from one country to another is the cost involved, especially if it involves different networks.

It is a problem that MFS Africa; a digital payments hub, is keen on mitigating by providing access to a world of innovative, simple, convenient, secure, affordable, and compliant mobile financial solutions for all.

It connects senders, recipients, and service providers across Africa’s fast-growing yet fragmented mobile payments ecosystem through the establishment of; access to speed and efficiency, access to the global digital economy, access to new options, access to new markets and new customers, access to scale, access to security, and access to endless opportunities among others.

According to Doreen Lukandwa, the VP Global Enterprise at MFS Africa, thisborderless hub acts as a one-stop center for any individual, business, or organization that wants to send or collect money from and to their final consumer in at least 34 African countries.

“The vision for MFS Africa is to make borders matter less. It is not enough to say that we can provide mobile money to people to be able to send money to a family member in Ethiopia, but it is to say that we can provide different sectors with these different solutions that we have within a single hub,” Lukandwa says.

For example, if you are a Ugandan business with a shop on Instagram, if you want a market from a consumer in Arua, you just have to promote the product on Instagram, connect through MFS Africa and you will be able to collect your payment through any of the mobile money networks in the country. So, the customer in Arua can select the item they want on Instagram, make a mobile money payment directly to you and then organize to deliver the paid-for product.  

Lukandwa says one of the most powerful components of this platform is interoperability, backed by solid infrastructure that enables people to send money to anyone across the world through partners like WorldRemit.

“The fact that we are connected with over 180 telecoms, banks, and money transfer organizations, means that we are facilitating safe, affordable interoperability. For example, if I am a business in Uganda and I have to pay my staff in Kenya, our platform will actually confirm who the account holder is in Kenya,” she says, adding;

“But also in Uganda if you are paying somebody, our system will actually validate if the person you are paying is the right one. In that regard, we are de-risking payments; we are making it more affordable because of the interoperable capability.”

Lukandwa further notes that the Ugandan FinTech industry has shown significant growth with initiatives that seek to address day-to-day challenges.  

“Rocket Health is addressing healthcare challenges; HiPipo is expanding and accelerating technical capabilities among Women in FinTech; SafeBoda is digitizing transportation, etc. The impact is not limited to just what we see here,” she said.

MFS Africa is the 32 (thirty-second) participant in this year’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative that is showcasing evolving FinTechs fostering financial inclusion, especially for the people at the bottom of the pyramid.

Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO says the job being done by MFS Africa points to the right path in fulfilling the tenets of the broader Include Everyone program.

“As HiPipo, our extensive effort and advocacy is partly for the intention of championing digital innovation and interoperable instant and inclusive payment systems (IIPS) in Africa, and MFS Africa is doing just that. We hope they continue designing and deploying affordable and inclusive financial services that serve the rich and the poor,” Kawooya said.

First launched in 2020, the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative is a 40-days event that shines a spotlight on emerging FinTechs with unique stories. It provides a setting for the various players and stakeholders involved in digital and financial technology to exhibit their products and services and also share their ideas on how more people, especially those un-served and underserved by the present financial systems can be brought on board, with emphasis on interoperability.

Run under HiPipo’s Include Everyone program, the initiative offers FinTechs useful tools and an introduction to the industry’s latest 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.

EzyAgric is using FinTech to enable over 300,000 farmers to get access to genuine agricultural information, inputs, and markets

Our Reporter.

Agriculture remains Uganda’s top employer, with more than 60 percent of the population involved in agricultural activities. Despite this statistic, the industry is largely underfunded, many farm inputs are counterfeited and there is little support for harvest handling and agro marketing.

By and large, Ugandan farmers are on their own, living at the mercy of middlemen that determine market prices for both farm inputs and produce.

It is these challenges that attract non-government players to chip in with innovative ways of empowering rural farmers. One such player is EzyAgric; an AgriTech and Financial Technology company that has digitized agricultural value chains to provide better production, marketing and financial services to farmers.

“Our mission is to provide end-to-end solutions to farmers so that they have a system that offers digital solutions for planning, extension services, access to affordable credit, and linkages to markets,” says Mercy Angela Nantongo, the EzyAgric Product Manager.

Established in 2015, EzyAgric also offers farmers with periodic weather updates, veterinary information, extension services and connects them to financial institutions for cheap credit.

HOW IT WORKS.

A farmer with a smartphone needs to download the EzyAgric mobile application, sign-in and get a code that they use to access the EzyAgric system for free. Someone without a smartphone can either visit the EzyAgric website or use a USSD code and put in a crop of their choice to get periodic updates.

“When you use either of those channels to access EzyAgric, you can freely access information about agricultural inputs and services. We tell you about vaccines, pesticides, and herbicides. You can request vet visits, soil testing information or market linkages,” she says.

As part of value addition, the platform also provides farm management skills where farmers are given virtual record books to track their income and expenditure. With extension services, farmers receive agronomical information on all crops and animals and it guides them step by step over the season.

“When harvest time comes, we have the agricultural market where the farmer is asked to take a photo of their produce, put price and quantity. We then forward to our produce buyers who contact the farmer and they transact,” Nantongo says.

Since 2015, Nantongo notes, EzyAgric has impacted roughly 300,000 farmers and facilitates transactions worth millions of dollars per season. According to Nantongo, of the 10,000 monthly active users of EzyAgric platform, over 80 percent are women, which has greatly contributed to promotion of women financial inclusion.

To bring services closer to the under-served, Nantongo says they have even initiated an agent-based system where in every village or sub-county, people who don’t have access to a smartphone can get an agent who can register more than 100 farmers to access agricultural information.

The agent manages the group, can place orders for inputs, manage record books and receive market information.

 “We also partner with Airtel where you dial a short code and chose the crop of your choice and on a weekly basis get information from us on how to take care of the crop. And when we have buyers for that crop, we send you a message. This specific product has attracted more than 30,000 subscribers from all over Uganda using the product in all languages,” Nantongo says.

FinTech in Uganda

Nantongo notes there is still a big challenge in uptake of digital solutions by most farmers and people at the bottom of the pyramid, with the majority reluctant to trust FinTechs because of lack of physical interactions and the perceived dangers of using of digital money.

EzyAgric is the 30th participant in this year’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative. Organised by HiPipo with generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that initiative seeks to shine a light on emerging Financial Technology companies that are transforming lives through advancing of financial inclusion to the underserved communities.

HiPipo CEO, Innocent Kawooya paid tribute to EzyAgric as being one of Uganda’s FinTechs with maximum impact.

“Majority of Uganda’s population is somehow involved in agriculture. We are glad that EzyAgric is helping create a value chain between the farmer and the market which will go a long way in creating an agrarian ecosystem. Inputs and markets are always a huge challenge for farmers. It is very encouraging that organizations like EzyAgric have come in to address this and more,” he said.

The #40Days40FinTechs initiative is run under HiPipo’s Include Everyone program in partnership with Crosslake Technologies, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation, and is generously sponsored by the Gates Foundation.

It encompasses other initiatives such as FinTech Landscape Exhibition, Women in FinTech Hackathon, Summit & Incubator, and the Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit and Digital Impact Awards Africa.

The initiative offers participants useful 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.