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Merchandise Uganda: Linking sellers to buyers

Merchandise Uganda: Linking sellers to buyers

Merchandise Uganda, an e-commerce platform that connects sellers to buyers is increasingly gaining prominence in Uganda, owing to its ability to connect businesses to market across the globe easily. Established in March 2019, the platform allows merchants to open mini-showrooms through which they market their products to potential buyers by posting product photos and adverts, reviews, tips and videos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

READ ABOUT: Yo Uganda: Demystifying digital wallets in Uganda

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Author: EditorMerchandise Uganda: Linking sellers to buyers

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Hamwe East Africa: Digitizing agriculture

Hamwe East Africa: Digitizing agriculture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

READ ABOUT: Merchandise Uganda: Linking sellers to buyers

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Yo Uganda: Demystifying digital wallets in Uganda

Yo Uganda: Demystifying digital wallets in Uganda

Mobile wallets have over the past few years become a buzzword in most countries across the world, including Uganda. However, one name stands out in Uganda when it comes to mobile wallets; that is Yo Uganda, a technology solutions company that braved to venture into the world of the unknown.

Established in 2006, the company entered the market offering a low cost international call service before venturing into mobile technology to provide Value-Added-Services.

Solutions such as mobile money, SMS, Unstructured Supplementary Services Data (USSD) gateways, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), voice solutions and custom-developed applications were introduced to the market and were tailored to its clients’ needs, according to company’s managing director Gerald Begumisa.

This followed the launch of MTN mobile money in 2009 and Kenya’s M-Pesa, which had been launched two years before MTN’s mobile money services.

Like any agile company, Yo Uganda later ventured into the mobile payments space. This saw it launch the Yo Payment, a mobile money payments and mobile commerce aggregation system that enables businesses to receive payments from their customers via mobile money as well as make mobile money payments to any mobile money account holder.

It facilitates airtime transfers, integrating with banks, utilities and individuals and businesses that wish to use mobile money networks to accept or make payments.

When mobile money was first launched, the focus was person–to-person and the recipient would immediately go to a nearby agent to withdraw cash. So we saw an opportunity to enable businesses and other organisations to take advantage of the mobile money service in a way that would enable them reduce their costs and reduce on the risks of keeping cash at their premises,” Begumisa said.

It targeted three sectors including merchants, corporates and financial institutions.

Under the merchant sector, Yo Uganda enables businesses to securely accept mobile money payments for their goods and services through any channel of their choice, depending on their needs while under corporates; it enables organisations transform from cash to digital form of payment, using mobile money.

They can also use the bulk payments service to securely and conveniently disburse funds directly to the mobile money wallets of multiple beneficiaries.

Under the financial institutions sector, Yo Uganda provides a solution that enables institutions like banks, micro finance institutions and Saccos, among others to accept deposits through the mobile money channel and also enable their customers to withdraw funds from their accounts directly into their mobile money wallets.

In partnership with financial institutions, Yo Uganda also tapped into money remittances, where it would enable remitters to deliver remittances directly into beneficiaries’ wallets, in partnership with international remitters.

Bringing farmers onboard

Begumisa said that while mobile money was already popular by 2010, there was still a big gap especially in rural areas where farmers were skeptical about adopting digital finance.

However, in 2015, Yo Uganda partnered with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and telecoms to sensitize and enroll farmers onto mobile payment systems.

The focus was mainly on three value agricultural value chains including coffee, seed oil and dairy, in Eastern, Northern and Western Uganda, respectively.

Over 135,000 farmers have so far been on-boarded on the digital ecosystem so far, bringing them into the financially included people bracket, which currently stands at 78%. This is also in line with the ongoing efforts to boost financial inclusion and this explains why Yo Uganda is among the firms participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

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

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

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya noted that achieving full financial inclusion requires collaborative efforts and this explains why HiPipo organised the 40 Days 40 fintechs initiative to bring together players with different solutions so as to work together to address people’s financial needs.

He added that COVID-19 has proved that the technology sector is the savior of so many economies, given an important role it has played during this crisis across the globe.

Kawooya equated Yo Uganda’s mobile payments journey to that of Facebook and HiPipo, which started as a social media and entertainment platforms, respectively to now venturing into digital financial services.

When you are able to show people the value of having mobile devices and using connectivity to communicate, then you can easily show them that even their money can be put on their phones and kept safely there,” he said.

Read About: Mwanjala kicks off digital financial inclusion drive in Zambia

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Author: EditorYo Uganda: Demystifying digital wallets in Uganda

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Mwanjala kicks off digital financial inclusion drive in Zambia

Mwanjala kicks off digital financial inclusion drive in Zambia

Mwanjala Technologies, a Zambian company based in Kitwe Lusaka seeks to connect buyers and sellers with proper delivery lines and digital payment integrations.

It further seeks to enhance e-commerce through connecting people to various products and services and allowing them the option to pay through integrated digital financial services platforms such as mobile money.

Mwanjala Technologies makes it easy for users to make online purchases in a secure environment, through integration with electronic payment systems.

Edward Mwanjala, the company’s CEO explained that while they started off by integrating their social network platform with PayPal and VISA Card, users were uncomfortable using them. This forced them to revisit their option, thus integrating with mobile money payment systems, using Application Programming Interface (API).

Additionally, the Financial Technology Company (FinTech) seeks to empower entrepreneurs to be able to sell their products, services and brands.

Ours is a platform for people to express themselves, to start up brands on our network and be able to make money. Our vision is to make sure that marketers can post their goods and people can be able to buy with mobile money,” Mwanjala said.

The future

Mwanjala is optimistic about the Opportunities in the financial technology space, saying that the future of buying any goods and services is online.

People will in future reduce the time they go to shops physically; mobile payment systems are going to be the norm if in fact they are not already,” he said.

He added that drones are also expected to come in handy as new delivery systems. Despite the immense opportunities, Mwanjala expressed concern over the limited number of engineers who are able to code and the financing constraint which limits innovation.

We have created a working engine similar to that of Facebook using the limited resources we have. If a major venture capitalist invested in our project, we could do immense stuff,” he said.

He added: “We are a young company but we are ambitious. We want to lead Africa in pioneering ways of doing business especially in the e-commerce sector. Using our platform, users can sell anything from music, clothes, gadgets and a lot more.

Mwanjala noted that the team is constantly developing new solutions to bring about ease of doing business.

He noted that Mwanjala Technologies intends to enhance partnerships by collaborating with more players to enhance customers’ e-commerce experiences by minimizing fraud and ensuring timely delivery of purchased goods.

Mwanjala Technologies is among the firms participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs project.

Running for 40 days, the project, which is 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.

Simon Kamya, the 40 days 40 fintechs technical facilitator noted that Mwanjala’s state of business calls for availability of an open loop, and same day settlement services that can allow free transaction indulgent where the customers need not worry of which financial providers the businesses prefer.

Based on the Mojaloop financial model, Mwanjala using the Open source API and business idea, they can include all Digital Financial Services Providers on the same echo system and make use of the account look up service to identify transaction from the different edges of the telecoms, bank, mobile wallets among others,” Kamya said.

Read About: Mindset Coders equipping children with coding skills

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Mindset Coders: Equipping children with coding skills

Mindset Coders: Equipping children with coding skills

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 learners 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.

Read About: StarTimes Solar lights up rural communities

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StarTimes Solar lights up rural communities

StarTimes Solar lights up rural communities

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.

Read About: GES Online School

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Author: EditorStarTimes Solar lights up rural communities

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GES Online School: Education amid Covid-19 pandemic

GES Online School: Education amid Covid-19 pandemic

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.

Read About: JUMO: Social impact financial products to the unbanked

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JUMO: Social impact financial products to the unbanked

JUMO: Social impact financial products to the unbanked

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.

Read About: Swipe2Pay: Helping SMEs transit to e-payments, access loans

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Swipe2Pay: Helping SMEs transit to e-payments, access loans

Swipe2Pay: Helping SMEs transit to e-payments, access loans

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.

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Startups

Lend in a Box: Boosting financial inclusion

Lend in a Box: Boosting financial inclusion

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.

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Author: EditorLend in a Box: Boosting financial inclusion