#40days40Fintechs: Mindset Coders is equipping children with coding skills.

Our Reporter.

There is growing demand in developed nations for schools to teach children coding from an early age. This is because most schools and parents believe that learning how to code at a young age sets up a child for a lifetime of success.

In most developing countries, including Uganda, however, the earliest one is exposed to such is at university, in case they are pursuing a computer or information technology-related course.

However, one company – Mindset Coders, has set up to change the narrative for Uganda.

Established in 2018 by Valentine Maisha, Mindset Coders imparts digital skills to children from seven to 18 years, with a view of getting them exposed to digital skills and to encourage them to dive more into tech related careers.

Maisha who also doubles as the Startup’s Team Lead, said that teaching kids how to code at an early age gives them lifetime skills that can be used even in other fields even when they don’t end up in the career itself.

She added that exposing young people to coding at an early age triggers their imagination, creativity and curiosity, given that they are often open-minded.

“We seek to empower the young people for tomorrow and ensure that every school going child in Uganda learns how to code,” she said.

Maisha said that Uganda’s education system is still traditional and the curriculum in most schools does not take into consideration the technology revolution that is going on globally.

“To change this, we are bringing tech into the classrooms by offering co-curricular programs in schools and out of school to empower the youth with digital literacy and entrepreneurship skills in bid to encourage innovation, creativity and to get a head start into the future with these skills,” she said.

She said that basic programming has become an essential skill for grown-ups and children alike and the benefits of picking up this skill, especially for kids are huge.

She said that children are taught in a fun way that make them understand what technology is, appreciate it and empower them with problem solving skills.

“We don’t do it the same way we teach adults because we want them to enjoy it and see that it is fun to do it and how you can be creative with it.

“Learning how to build games helps kids refine their design, logic, and problem-solving abilities. It also allows them to express ideas and creativity in unique ways,” she said.

The children are skilled in different aspects including creating games or telling a story using code and a bit of robotics.

Inspiration

Maisha, who was introduced to coding after her campus years conceived the idea of teaching young people to code after her young siblings and herself watched a documentary about how girls who go to the United Arab Emirates to work as house-helps were being tortured. Her sister, whom she had taught how coding could be used to solve problems, asked her whether she could code something to solve that challenge.

That triggered her mind to teach young people coding so that they can be creators of technology to not only solve other people’s problems but also earn themselves an income.

In additional to learning coding skills, Maisha, said children also get resilience, critical thinking, teamwork and computational skills.

“In coding even if you get stuck, you have to find a way to make it work because you will not have peace. That helps leaners get resilience skills,” she said.

Furthermore, learners get entrepreneurship and presentation skills in addition to innovation which comes with creativity and problem solving.

Over 1,000 people have been skilled over the two-year period.

While Mindset Coders is an EduTech, it depends on FinFech for collections and payments and it is among the firms participating in the ongoing 40-days-40-FinTechs project.

Organised by HiPipo and in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation, the project seeks to enable FinTechs to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

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

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya said that Mindset Coders is playing a critical role in the financial inclusion space, given their role in empowering children with knowledge that helps them prepare for self-employment and disruptive innovation.

He noted that this is a step in the right direction, given that even in Hollywood, majority of the best films are edited by either children or women given that they are always passionate about what they do.

#40days40Fintechs; StarTimes Solar lights up rural communities.

Our Reporter.

While previously life for most Ugandans, especially those living in rural areas, would come to near standstill after sunset due to lack of electricity, the emergence of innovative lighting solutions is helping rewrite the story.

Hundreds of people now have access to solar power, thanks to products like StarTimes Solar, which is lighting up communities around the country.

Provided by digital television service provider StarTimes, the product which speaks to the day-to-day needs of ordinary Ugandan at the grass root, offers a two edged solution of lighting and a television signal to enable customers have access to information.

With an initial payment of UGX 239,000, one gets a complete package that includes a 24-inch digital television, solar panel, digital battery, four LED bulbs, phone charging cable and a satellite dish and accessories, and only pay Ush3, 000 daily installments thereafter for two years, according to Eric Obote, the StarTimes Solar sales manager. Daily payment is done through mobile money.

Additionally, customers get free access to StarTimes channels for two years.

Obote said that the product that was conceived in January 2019 but officially launched in May the same year, starting with the central region has since expanded to almost all parts of the country.

It currently has 26 branches across the country.

“Our focus is reaching people at the grass root level. The companies that were providing solar solutions previously were unable to give the right products to people in villages but we do,” he said.

The StarTimes Uganda public relations manager, Cleopatra Koheirwe said the solar product is most beneficial to women, given that they are in most cases the ones who are always helping children with homework yet most people in rural areas do not have electricity.

Obote and Koheirwe were speaking during an interaction with HiPipo, during the ongoing 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative.

The initiative is organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

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

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

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya said StarTimes Solar is in line with the HiPipo agenda of using financial technology to transform lives.

“The reason we think of technology and innovate each single day is because we want to ensure that we create technology that solves problems which humans would not be able to solve easily,” Kawooya said.

He added: “StarTimes came from a digital inclusion point of view and is now offering value-added services. Understanding your customers’ problems and work towards addressing them changes people’s lives.”

He noted that allowing their customers to affordably make payment for solar at minimal instalments of UShs3,000 per day, using mobile money relates to HiPipo’s tagline of prime stories in financial technology that are transforming millions of lives.

Kawooya, however, said there is need to synchronize more to enhance interoperability.

“Today we want to ensure that as the product grows, it seamlessly allows anyone to have StarTimes solar. And if someone is banking with Finance Trust, they do not have to be asked to have mobile money; they should be able to pull with whichever payment provider, using an interoperable system like Mojaloop, which allows every user and customer to pay you conveniently.

He pledged that as they shine a light on this story, they would help StarTimes to ensure that its solar product is fully adapted to increase access to solar energy across the country.

#40days40Fintechs: GES Online School revolutionizes education amid Covid-19 pandemic.

Our Reporter.

While the Covid-19 pandemic caught nations unware, paralyzing businesses and service provision in many countries, it also sparked off a wave of invention as people thought of innovative ways to remain relevant even during the lockdown.

Among the innovations that emerged during the lockdown in Uganda was the Gombe Education Service (GES) Online School, an online learning programme offering education to all learners aged four to twenty years.

According to the Yeeko Nkono, the GES Online School Coordinator, the programme was birthed on June 9, 2020 as a mitigation measure to bridge the education gap created by the Covid-19 outbreak that compelled the government to close all education institutions.

Cognizant of the fact that learning never stops, GES directors adopted the online learning alternative for pre-primary, primary and high school, which Nkono said is the new normal and user friendly.

“The online learning platform is intended to enable learners, irrespective of where they are, to continue interacting with the facilitators and learn,” Nkono said during an interaction with HiPipo during the ongoing 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative.

He added: “We seek to empower a community that fosters global change through digital learning and provide quality digital education through a flexible learning environment to produce competent global citizens.

The non-contact platform ensures continuous learning and encourages effective facilitator – learner interaction.

“With this boundless, secure and safe learning environment, we think we are bridging the gap between the physical school and learners’ needs and also help learners embrace digital literacy as a core skill of globalization while providing quality, flexible, accessible and equitable digital learning,” he said.

Nkono noted that the programme initially started as a system where children would learn using videos, PDFs and word documents but later realised that parents were looking for something that is more engaging and interactive, thus the adoption of an online platform.

Learners are taught using live videos via zoom, enabling them to have an interaction similar to a physical one. Learners are also given assignments via the Edmodo platform to assess their understanding of the subjects taught.

Advantages

The platform allows parents to choose a programme that is healthy and convenient, offers all subjects unlike when one gets a single teacher, whose skill might be in one or two subjects, to coach their child.

Additionally, the programme allows parents to choose a financially friendly programme that enables their child share learning experiences with others. Facilitators, who are drawn from different schools, are also able to choose a flexible working environment.

This EduTech platform has introduced mobile money as their collection channel for students’ fees while its teachers are equally paid weekly via mobile money.

The HiPipo CEO, Innocent Kawooya commended GES Online School for the innovation, saying that it is an innovation that will remain relevant event post Covid-19 because education never stops.

“We celebrate you because during this Covid-19 period; though we have seen 32 different stories already, no one has come with a specific case that solves the immediate problem of what our children are facing; where 15 million Ugandans are not at school today,” Kawooya said.

He, however, urged them to sacrifice a bit more by investing more in technology, saying that the opportunity they have doesn’t fix only the problem of Covid-19 but has a potential to continue even post Covid-19.

“We all know that some children, even under normal circumstances need extra education which parents always look for by getting a teacher to coach their children but that teacher doesn’t cover all subjects.

“Thus, GES online services is not only a solution for children studying because there is Covid-19 now, it is a solution that is supposed to have lived around our education system for a long time because when you go to Europe or America, this solution is existing; people have access to information and education anytime,” Kawooya said.

He noted that bringing tutors in one basket and utilizing their expertise to deliver education through one portal to learners in different parts of the country is some kind of interoperability, a concept that HiPipo is advancing, together with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation, under the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative.

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

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

#40days40Fintechs: Swipe2Pay is helping SMEs transit to e-payments, access loans.

Our Reporter.

The evolution of Financial Technology companies (FinTechs) is increasingly playing a critical role in salvaging informally operated Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which for long were unable to access credit from banks and Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs).

One such FinTech that has come in handy to serve businesses operating in this grey area is Swipe2Pay, a Ugandan payments solution that empowers SMEs to accept mobile money as well as card payment options.

According to Solomon Kitumba, the founder and head of products at Swipe2Pay, the FinTech offers a mobile point of sale that helps SMEs to sell smarter cashlessly and manage their businesses better.

The firm built a payment layer that allows SMEs accept payment from any mobile money service provider in Uganda, M-Pesa from Kenya and is also said to be in final stages of integrating with Interswitch to enable SMEs accept card payments.

To simplify the process, Kitumba said they built a one-step checkout process, where a client enters their phone mobile money registered number on the business owner’s phone and then enters a PIN code to approve the transaction, instead of the old cumbersome one process of using a USSD code.

“It’s important for us to be in the market; there is more than 16 million underserved SMEs in East Africa, with a USD 1b daily mobile money market. Many of these have never received even a single electronic payment ever; so we have helped people sale electronically for the first time through our platform,” he said.

Credit score

Shifting SMEs to take on payments from both mobile money and cards, will also help SMEs to be easily credit scored so as to enable them access credit against their sales.

According to Kitumba, one of the biggest challenges SMEs are grappling with is limited access to credit from banks and Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), mainly due to lack of proper records and their informality. Swipe2Pay helps them streamline business processes, where SMEs are helped to manage sales and expenses, inventory and stock, employees as well as managing multiple locations.

We work with SMEs because chances are high that they are not being looked at by the banks and MFIs because of their informality, with no books of accounts yet those are some of the things banks look at to make lending decisions.

“The Swipe2pay platform, however, allows SMEs to keep track of their cash flow, and manage stock and inventory, in addition to generating comprehensive business performance data that is used to determine their creditworthiness, building alternative credit scoring models and easing access to finance,” Kitumba said during an interaction with HiPipo, during the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative session.

He added: “The Uganda annual microfinance market is over USD 4billion; still SMEs are not having a piece of this cake. Therefore, we believe that with the right tools and incentives, they should be able to accept cashless payments and also tap into receiving credit from banks and MFIs.”

In numbers

In one and a half years, the FinTech has signed up over 1,300 SMEs with more than 10,000 transactions, estimated in the excess of USD 281,000, done on its platform.

Additionally, the platform has over 2 million items in stock on the platform, with over 2000 individual item categories.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya said collaboration and synergy is important if the world is to achieve full financial inclusion.

“We understand that we cannot be alone in the ecosystem. With over 371 tribes in Africa, you cannot connect everyone alone. That is why we thought it wise to have an initiative like 40-days-40-FinTechs because we believe that by allowing everyone to play their role, we will collectively achieve full financial inclusion,” Kawooya said.

He pledged that HiPipo will over the next four years support FinTechs like Swipe2Pay to ensure every one of those 16 million SMEs that have never received a digital payment, does so.

Additionally, he said that HiPipo would advocate to ensure that the ground is leveled for every player, irrespective of size to compete favorably.

“But as long as you are able to create innovative solutions that speak to the needs of our communities or businesses, then we should be able to have everyone have a platform and be able to provide their service as much as they can.”

About 40-days-40-FinTechs

The 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative is organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

It seeks to enable Financial Technology Companies innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

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

#40days40Fintechs: Frontier Alliance making diaspora remittances easy, affordable.

Our Reporter.

While Sub-Saharan Africa countries are among the largest recipients of diaspora remittances, the region also suffers with some of the highest transfer costs than any other region in the world.

A 2018 World Bank report shows that on average, the cost of sending USD 200 to and from a country in the region was almost USD19, which is more than 20% higher than the charge for a remittance to any other region.

Frustrated over exorbitant charges and lack of innovation in the African-diaspora remittances, Douglas Kimani set out to start Frontier Alliance Limited, a technology company that is passionate about digital transformation.

According to Kimani, money transfer solutions have remained the same over the years, characterized by high fees and low exchange rates.

Based in Winnipeg, Canada, Frontier Alliance offers financial inclusion products in remittances and direct bill payments from anywhere in the world, thus eliminating middlemen, who most times misuse the hard-earned cash.

Kimani explained that while direct bill payment services have been out of reach for many Africans in the diaspora, Frontier Alliance’s products are set to provide the much-needed bridge to ensure that remittances fulfil the intended purposes.

“Diaspora remittances do not always fulfil the intended purposes such as settling education bills, hospital bills, utility bills because they are sent through a third party. But our direct bill product will close this gap by paying the service providers directly,” Kimani said.

He added: “Our promise is to provide real time money transfer service with direct bill payments, securely and conveniently, cost-effectively or at no-cost while providing traceability of the funds with good stewardship.”

The Financial Technology Company (FinTech) focuses mainly on financial services, health care and education while leveraging social, mobility and cloud technologies.

Kimani, whose company is among those participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative, applauded the project organisers, saying that the idea of promoting interoperability, especially within Africa, will help lower transactional costs further and make financial services more accessible.

“Interoperability and Mojaloop in the African financial inclusion journey is critical; Mojaloop is providing the missing link that Africa needs. Different partners are provided with a level playing field to start from,” he said.

He added: “Whether a company is a startup or a multi-billion dollar company, this will help innovation acceleration while observing global best practices.”

Kimani noted that being an open source software, Mojaloop has provided an opportunity to different stakeholder categories to be involved, through the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and open standards architecture, with level one principles.

As Frontier Alliance scales to meet the different user demands, Kimani explained, it will now be easy to integrate with Mojaloop and leverage other partners in the ecosystem to advance financial inclusion.

About 40-days-40-FinTechs

The 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative is organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

It seeks to enable Financial Technology Companies innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

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

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya commended Frontier Alliance for the innovation, saying that developing more interoperable digital payment solutions will play a major role in scaling uptake of digital financial services and improve the levels of financial inclusivity.

“Frontier Alliance is designing digital remittance solutions that will help increase direct foreign investments for several African economies and markets,” Kawooya said.

He added that the idea of eliminating middlemen will help create a trusted Africa – Diaspora reliable merchant and service provider network of schools, medical facilities, that helps every payer to pay directly and exactly for only what they wish to, conveniently from any part of the world.

#40days40Fintechs: Lend in a Box is boosting financial inclusion

Our Reporter.

With financial exclusion still a big challenge globally, players in the financial technology space are increasingly working towards breaking the barriers by using technology to ensure that more people have access to affordable financial services.

It is estimated that over a billion people globally are still financially excluded. Uganda has, however, gained progress in the financial inclusion space, with the number of financially included estimated at 78%, representing 14.4 million adults, according to the 2018 FinScope survey.

While Mobile Money Service providers have played a major role in this, Financial Technology (FinTech) players such as Lend in a Box, are also playing a major role.

According to the company’s Head of Business Oscar Ofumbi, Lend in a Box seeks to drive financial inclusion for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) by aggregating payments, insurance, working capital, trade finance, cash and forex solutions, using its various wallets including SME, Agric, Med, Insure, Capital, Trade, and Risk solutions.

This is done in partnership with banks, insurance companies and alternative financial institutions.

Ofumbi said that one of the challenges facing SMEs today is competing in the same market place with multinationals, which often have access to different products and services across payments and forex solutions, which most SMEs do not have.

This, he said, puts them in a disadvantaged position as they are always outcompeted at almost all fronts.

Ofumbi said: “Our solutions cut across given that we are able to provide payments and other solutions for SMEs.”

“For instance, one of the use cases that we have most times is the one in the agricultural space where we have built a solution that enables women in rural areas to access financing using invoices or the supplies that they do. This has helped them access capital for their businesses and they are now in a better position than ever before to support their families.”

Commenting about the Insurance products, Ofumbi said that they discovered through research that a sizable percentage of expenditure of people in rural areas is spent on things that can be provided by insurance such as healthcare, burials and related expenses.

“These are expenses that can be covered by insurance but because the product has not reached them, they are unable to provide it for themselves and for their families. But by us extending this solution to them, we have supported them in that arena,” Ofumbi said.

Lend in a Box is among the firms participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs project that is currently ongoing. Lend in a Box is the 29th FinTech to interface with HiPipo on this project.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya noted that the HiPipo team is blessed to lead a sector that has played a major role in transforming lives.

“As HiPipo, it does not only excite us but also gives us much confidence that the future of Africa is bright because of the contribution of financial technology and we are glad to lead the contribution,” Kawooya said.

He explained that they believe that when they help grow different sectors through financial inclusion advocacy and through promoting the use of financial technology, which is one of the pillars that can help scale financial inclusion growth, they will help in solving some of the challenges facing the world today.

Kawooya commended Lend in a Box for their deliberate focus on SMEs and women in its effort to drive financial inclusion.

He noted that research has proved that when you uplift women, they will help their families and their families will in turn help nations to advance.

“The world needs to achieve full financial inclusion; the United Nations under the Sustainable Development Goals is interested in lowering poverty levels and believes that when people get financially included, may be poverty challenges will be addressed.”

He urged all the FinTechs participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative to play their part so that they together contribute to the growth of the economy and development of the world.

About the project

The 40-days-40-FinTechs project is organised by HiPipo under its Include EveryOne program, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

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

To increase access to financial services, however, there is need to lower transaction costs, which have been said to be a big barrier. Financial technology experts indicate that one of the ways to lower transactional costs is through adopting the use of interoperable solutions.

Ensuring that Ugandans FinTechs offer interoperable solutions is one of the reasons for the 40-days-40-FinTechs projects.

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.

Kawooya pledged to offer free consultancy for the participating Fintechs that could be having technological challenges.

#40days40Fintechs: MyLib is bringing primary school revision, learning alive.

Our Reporter.

While education experts in Uganda put the ideal teacher-pupils ratio at one teacher to 53 pupils, most schools have three times the number, a condition that is straining Uganda’s education system.

This brings about a problem for both teachers and learners, as slow learners are always left behind because teachers have a huge workload that hinders them from giving attention to the slow learners.

However, having gone through the system and not wanting his children and future grandchildren to go through a similar challenge, Andy Mugerwa set out to innovate a product that would allow primary school pupils to revise on their own in an interesting and live way.

Dubbed MyLib, the platform offers an interactive digital curriculum for primary school pupils, using animations and illustrations.

According to Mugerwa, it uses a blended learning approach that combines face-to-face instruction with computer-mediated instruction, which offers visual avenues to learning irrespective of rural and urban school locations.

“From our background, we all know the challenges we went through in our primary schools. So MyLib came to address education challenges for primary pupils,” Mugerwa said.

The platform offers several features including Content, multimedia and assessments, among others.

According to Mugerwa, MyLib content is tailored to suit Uganda’s local primary curriculum following guidelines and recommendations from National Curriculum Development Center while the multimedia presentation offers captivating animations and illustrations, which make learning fun and memorable.

“We know the needs of a Ugandan pupil because we are Ugandans. We are making primary revision and education interesting, more practical and accessible by as many people as possible,” he said.

Work offline

MyLib also allows users to work offline as they can download your lessons and access your content anywhere at anytime without extra data costs. It also offers assessments which help keep the learners engaged with over 240 practice exercises and over 4200 questions. Additionally, one can track the progress of their children with instant reports.

Among its key advantages are saving on time and money as learners can access content anywhere and anytime.

Additionally, Mugerwa said it leads to better retention because the whole learning process is entertaining and engaging, it is scalable and allows learners to choose their learning path and navigate at their own pace.

The MyLib platform is integrated to digital payment platforms such as mobile money to enable easy payment and access to the content.

Established in 2007, the company has to date served over 3,000 customers.

MyLib is one of the firms participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative, a project that seeks to enable Financial Technology companies innovate solutions to facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

“We are happy to be part of the 40-days-40-FinTechs. We are not a FinTech but our commercialisation is helped by financial technology. As such, discussions around interoperability and latest technologies such as Mojaloop are exciting to us,” Mugerwa said during an interaction with the HiPipo 40 days 40 fintechs team.

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

The initiative is being organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya said: “I am happy to interact with MyLib. Just like HiPipo, MyLib has been here for over a decade. I was privileged to be part of the team that advised on how to make MyLib better.

“As a developer, I offered Andy and his team some contribution on an idea they were already working on. We have kept in touch and always interact and discuss how to improve these platforms.”

He said that HiPipo thrives to enhance digitalization, financial inclusion and overall betterment of the communities.

#40days40Fintechs: Jumia is Africa’s celebrated e-commerce platform.

Our Reporter.

Jumia, an e-commerce retail and logistics service platform that connects sellers with consumers has been hailed as one of Africa’s greatest success stories and yes, it is.

Established in 2012 in Lagos, Nigeria, it has within just a period of eight years posted great milestones, including spreading to about 11 countries in Africa, including Uganda, Egypt, Morroco, Kenya, Ivory Coast and South Africa, among others.

It entered the Uganda market in 2014 and it has several logistics hubs across the country, which it uses to deliver goods to its clients across the country.

Established in 2012 in Lagos, Nigeria by Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec, ex-McKinsey consultants, along with Tunde Kehinde and Raphael Kofi Afaedor, Jumia is also listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). This follows it’s successfully issuance of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in April 2019.

According to the company’s Uganda public relations and social media manager, Samantha Abaho, the company has a group of vendors who use the platform to sell goods.

It has over the years partnered with more than 50,000 local African companies and individuals to facilitate this.

In addition to selling goods, the company is also a logistics service provider, enabling the shipment and delivery of packages from sellers to consumers and a payment service provider, facilitating online transactions within the Jumia ecosystem.

Additionally, it offer a travel platform – Jumia Travel, a hotel booking platform, and a Jumia On Demand platform which has the Jumia food platform; restaurants, fresh food markets and Jumia party for drinks.

Also important to note is that the company has Jumia One, an app that enables customers to pay bills such as airtime and Jumia Pay, a secure payment for people to shop on all Jumia services.

Following the launch of Jumia Pay, the firm also launched the Jumia lending program, an initiative that allows its vendors to access business loans. It also partnered with Amadeus technology, a leading travel technology company, to launch a platform that enables people to book flights.

Abaho said that with over 1 billion people and 500 million internet users in Africa, Jumia believes that e-commerce is making people’s lives easier by helping them shop and pay for millions of products at the best prices wherever they live.

Opportunities

She added that e-commerce is creating new opportunities for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to grow and create job opportunities for a new generation to thrive.

Given its good performance, it is not a surprise that Jumia is among the companies taking part in the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative that seeks to enable Financial Technology Companies to innovate solutions that to cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Running for 40 days, the project, which is organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation, will see the participating FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya applauded Jumia, saying that its venturing into online stores has inspired many people to sell their goods and commodities online, supporting the growth of e-commerce on the continent.

“As HiPipo, we are keen about advocating for digital transformation. In Africa, we are solving the problems that are existing, that are affecting our people every single day,” Kawooya said.

He added: “We are glad to host Jumia, an organisation that has played a transformative role in digitalizing e-commerce, in making an assumed new ecosystem of selling goods and services. We believe that with more partnerships and support, we will maybe, be able to create so many virtual supermarkets and shops that sell goods and commodities or those that integrate with you and supply through your channels.”

Kawooya applauded them for participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs project, saying that their participation could see the Jumia wallet allow people to pay for any good from anywhere in the world in future, especially because the project supports interoperability and adoption of emerging technology like Mojaloop, which will facilitate this.

#40days40Fintechs: Flutterwave is helping businesses integrate to ease payments across borders.

Our Reporter.

A growing number of businesses and buyers in Africa are increasingly embracing e-commerce, thanks to COVID-19 that saw governments enforce restrictions on people movement to control the spread of the deadly virus.

The shift to online shopping has not only opened a window of opportunities for businesses to sell within their country but also across borders, necessitating innovative and dependable payment methods.

While some companies have just woken up to this opportunity, Flutterwave, a payments technology company foresaw this coming about three years ago and innovated a platform that supports cross border payments.

The firm was founded by a team of ex-bankers, entrepreneurs and engineers including Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, with a view of providing technology and building digital payments infrastructure for Africa to connect it to the global economy and vice versa and enable businesses receive and make payments across Africa and globally.

The San Francisco headquartered payments Technology Company with operations and offices across Africa and Europe, has over the years focused on revolutionising e-payments across markets, including Uganda, where it launched in 2018.

“One thing we observed as Flutterwave was that Africa had begun going on a journey to solve its payments problem and products like mobile money and M-Pesa were prevalent but there was no one who was able to cover the entire continent.

“So as Flutterwave, we embarked on  a journey to build one Application Programming Interface (API), that could set all payments methods; today, if you are a client who wants to go across Africa selling across Africa, you don’t have to do various integrations everywhere you go,” Nielsimms Sangho, the Country Lead at Flutterwave Uganda, said.

He explained that while a buyer in Uganda could see a product online they were interested in being sold in a different market like Nigeria, they could not buy it because there was no way a payment could be effected. That has, however, since changed, thanks to the Flutterwave payments gateway that facilitates that.

The firm operates in over 45 countries, including Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa, among others.

Solutions offered

Flutterwave offers several solutions including checkout, a solution that gives users an easy way to collect payments from their customers anywhere in the world, via web or mobile and a cash issuing and management solution, which helps businesses create and manage virtual cards on their card issuing platforms.

The other solutions are a Flutterwave store, which helps businesses sell online, Flutterwave invoicing which helps businesses create professional invoices easily, get paid and track payments and a payments links that enable businesses receive payments with ease without a website or integration.

Its flagship product, Rave, which enables merchants to accept payments from cards, bank accounts, and mobile money is being used by over 45,000 merchants in the US, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa and currently handles at least 2 million transactions per month.

Merchants like Uber, TranferWise, FlyWire, booking.com among others are using the Rave product.

The technology firm has received several prestigious awards including the “Best Technology Platform” awarded by The Asian Banker and the Top 100 Fintech Firms, among others.

Focus on women

Sangho also noted that the firm has a bias for women, across all the markets it operates. As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, Sangho said that the company gives a seed capital to women-founded businesses.

“We realised that ordinarily, women have not had as much opportunity as men, especially in business in Africa and so we want to hold their hands and give them access to capital. The company also has a great team of women as staff because we believe in giving opportunity to women,” he said.

He, however, explained that they push their products across, irrespective of one’s gender.

About 40-days-40-Fintechs

Flutterwave is among the companies taking part in the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative that seeks to enable Financial Technology Companies innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

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

The initiative is being organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya said the 40-days-40-FinTech initiative is a unique platform that seeks to advocate and support the digital transformation agenda.

He noted that digital inclusion is very important if any country, especially in Africa, is to achieve financial inclusion.

“One of the important elements for us to consider in the digital transformation story is understanding the entire story that before you have digital inclusion, you will never get anyone achieve financial inclusion in this age and time,” he said.

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

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

#40days40Fintechs: Pegasus Technologies making a difference in digital payments space.

Our Reporter.

It may still be a nascent industry but Uganda is increasingly making huge leaps in the digital payment technologies space.

Huge sums of money; be it person-to-person payments or business transactions, are being transacted conveniently, thanks to the innovativeness put up by Financial Technology Companies (FinTechs) such as Pegasus Technologies.

Established in 2007, the company has over the years gained prominence in the development of financial solutions for companies, emerging as a leading payment services aggregator in Uganda with vast experience in development, configuration, deployment, support and maintenance of financial and billing solutions for businesses and institutions.

It has for instance over the years developed solutions, including mobile money aggregation, mobile payments and remittances, loans and savings, software development and value added services such as SMS, airtime and data loading.

Its flagship product, PegPay payments platform, is currently being used by several institutions including banks, telecoms and utility companies such, retailers, Pay-Tv providers’ and schools, to aggregate and manage financial transactions for both internal and external purposes.

According to the company’s Projects Manager – Joshua Mandela, their platform is a robust and scalable payments system that handles over Ushs1.7trillion in transaction volumes annually for its aggregated partners.

How the solutions work

Under the mobile money aggregation solution, Mandela said, an organisation is able to collect money through a USSD, mobile application or web application. Organizations are also able to effect payments to their end user beneficiaries, either using the Pegasus platform or through their own platforms after being integrated with an Application Programming Interface (API).

The mobile payments and remittances solution on the other hand enables organizations to effect mobile payouts in bulk. One is only required to load a list of the beneficiaries and the amount to be paid out and money is sent through a preferred mobile money service provider platform.

To facilitate remittances, Pegasus partnered with several companies abroad to enable Ugandans in the diaspora send money home via mobile money.

Under the loans and savings platform, the FinTech partnered with companies that offer credit to end-users. One is only required to sign up on the platform of the company they want to get a loan from and fill in a loan request form. Once the company approves the loan, it sends the money to Pegasus, which then sends it to the intended beneficiary through a mobile money API. To payback or to save, money can be sent to the company’s account through the Pegasus our mobile money API.

Interoperability

 

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya commended Pegasus for its great role in accelerating financial inclusion in Uganda and for taking part in the 40-days-40-FinTechs project.

Alluding to a declaration he made at the FinTech Connect Conference in London in December last year, Kawooya said the next most disruptive innovation in technology is going to be financial technology and that it is likely to come from Africa and probably Uganda.

He explained that while talking about tools for accelerating financial inclusion, one of the most important things that is key in supporting this is interoperability.

“Today, the global community of financial technology believes that interoperability is one of the important avenues to use to accelerate financial inclusion and one of the ways to do that is to work with an open-source like Mojaloop to facilitate this,” he said, alluding to the Mojaloop software that seeks to boost financial inclusion by addressing the financial interoperability challenges in Africa.

To achieve interoperability, Kawooya said that collaboration is key.

“To facilitate collaboration, we will hold the 40-days-40 FinTechs project annually to ensure that those players that have innovative solutions that have changed how financial technology and financial inclusion is done are showcased and ensure that their stories are promoted to move further,” Kawooya said.

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

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

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

Pegasus also offers e-commerce services where organisations with websites or mobile applications are allowed to vend their services online and receive payments online.

It also provides wallet services, merchant collections, agency banking, e-banking, mobile banking and a solution that links dairy farmers and their respective cooperatives in Ssembabule and Kibogo districts. Under this solution, farmers take their milk to the cooperative, which sells it, collects the money and disburse it to farmers via mobile money.