Wednesday,24 July 2024

Ugandan fintechs make finance social

5 min read

Interviewed By Emmanuel Daniel

Leading fintech entrepreneurs in Uganda spent an evening with Emmanuel Daniel to share how Africa will transform finance to focus on the community.

Emmanuel Daniel (ED): Guys, what is SACCO?

Zianah Nyiramanza Muddu (ZNM):: A SACCO is a community of people that trust each other.

ED: And is it unique to Uganda?

ZNM:: No, it is not. In Africa, SACCO is everywhere. We trust each other in Africa.

Andre Van Zyl (AVZ):: This is Africa’s economy. Finance in Africa is social.

ED: Hello, everybody. I've just spent an amazing evening here in Kampala, Uganda, with members of FITSPA, the Financial Technology Service Providers Association of Uganda. And guess what? They have 180 members, and I have spent the evening with some of the leading members here. And I've learned so much that requires me to think again about what I understand to be financial inclusion, what I understand to be capitalism, and social capitalism. I just want to invite some of the members here to give us a sense of what they do and what they believe in.

Robert Kintu (RK): I'm Robert Kintu, I am setting up the first neo bank in Uganda, called the MaaliCard. And we are passionate about helping communities with coherent kinds of services that’s not about transaction. It's about what they would get in providing payments by sometime saving, living off what they have been able to make and investing more in their own lives. This is what we think we can change and improve their lives.

James Mukasa (JM): Hi, my name is James Mukasa, CEO and founder at Money Sent Uganda Limited. A shout out to FITSPA. I'm so happy. Money Sent is a mobile application that allows companies and individuals to collect conveniently, to send and receive and, and coordinate efforts that involve money.

Patricia Taremwa (PT): Hello, my name is Patricia. I work with a fintech association. And I also work with a payments company called Interswitch East Africa Uganda Limited. It's an integrated payments company that works with financial institutions and non-financial institutions. I believe that the future of finance is going to be highly decentralised and it will morph into the structures and systems of society naturally. Thank you.

Flavia Kasenge (FK): My name is Flavio Kasenge, I work with Ezeemoney Limited. We are a technology company dealing with both financial and non-financial services. And we're really passionate about the livelihood of our people at the bottom of the pyramid. My other passion is really about women at the bottom of the pyramid I believe in future of woman power.

AVZ: Hi, I'm Andre Van Zyl, co-founder of Clic.World. We do blockchain based solutions for social banking. We do exchange cryptocurrencies to fiat, virtual assets. We have got micro banking system. And our main focus is on communities. Communities and community banking, because that's really where we see the future of finance, we see the future of finance is as decentralised social financial ecosystems.

ZNM: Good evening, everyone. My name is Zianah Nyiramanza Muddu. I work with Africa Fintech Network as the secretary general. But I also run the Fintech Association of Uganda as an engagement partner. It's good to have you Emmanuel in Uganda, and we are having lots of fun with you. I believe the future of finance especially fintech is about partnerships, collaborations and also a connected ecosystem. Because what I've seen in the association is every member has their own niche in the market. And every member has their own value proposition. So, you can find is a member that has the infrastructure, and many members can actually use the infrastructure to drive the point home. And also the banks coming in, they also have infrastructure the fintechs are piggybacking on. Which is also a great thing. One of the things from the recent report that we held is 74% of the funding for the fintech companies in Uganda is actually local funding, and that is a plus. For members, they've actually gone. They really are switching it off. They have used everything, their savings, they've acquired loans, they've sold their properties to see their businesses thrive. And as an association, we also want to go ahead and see what else can we do for our members. Besides the four pillars that I mentioned earlier, we're thinking about creating a FITSPA fintech fund, that's going to fund our members just to help them with a little capital, to help their businesses scale and also to help them develop new products, because I know most of them think so hard, and they want to get the money pressure off them. So, we want to look for money. So, right now we are still at stage one. So, we're looking for partners, investors to see who can invest in our fintech fund to really help our members scale.

Emmanuel, do you have any friends who can invest in our FITSPA fintech fund?

ED: Who do you think will watch this? and SACCOs are? Savings and credit cooperatives. Savings and credit cooperatives that exist at local community level, and there are 1000s of them in Africa. And that's the basis on which you build a finance infrastructure around local communities. I learn that here, in this conversation.

 AVZ: When a group of people come together. A group of people that share the same common values and ideas, and that group of people operate on a trust relationship with each other. And that is really how Africa's economy works. If you look everywhere, it is a village where people know each other. They don't need to ask for their credit scores. They know each other's credibility. So, that same common ethos, they manage their money, that's the best way to manage money is that group, and that social cohesiveness, that community. It's not just about lending and saving, it's also about helping. It's about the social aspect of this. So social banking is really a group of people that come together, that share the same values. And then they form a little micro bank. And these micro banks then operate in ecosystems where we really see in Uganda, we got fantastic fintech innovators to do this, to actually see this grow. So, we really see that we can export this to the world. We see the world adapting this social banking. The model of decentralised social banking is where we see the world is going.

 FK: So, in Uganda, because in the “ancient” days, we didn't really have internet like the Western countries, there is there was an innovation of the USSD, it works without internet, people are able to communicate to each other. We're able to send money using the USSD. And we don't need to have internet to be able to do that. So, it is something that has been used, even with people with feature phones, they're able to send money to someone or to make a communication within a country. I think it's something that is going to really reform, it's going to evolve. It's going to change how people are working. But already in Uganda, it exists. So, if people get to know about USSD, and how cheap it is to use, you don't have to struggle with internet, you can be anywhere with any type of phone and you're able to communicate, you're able to send money, which is something that has helped people. You don't really have to have internet or bundles for you to be able to use USSD. So, it's really user friendly, and I believe it's going to evolve.

ED: Hey, everybody, I had a great evening. You just challenged everything I know about finance as seen from a capitalist world. And I must tell your story to the rest of the world.

 Thank you. 

Zianah N Muddu

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