In 2020, members of SAO Zirobwe Sacco in Luweero district were introduced to something ‘alien’.
They were told that there was an electronic platform for them to deposit, save, withdraw or get a loan digitally. They just needed to download an application on their phone or dial a given USSD number and start transacting.
“Sincerely, I did not first buy it because, personally, I didn’t trust those digital things. I was afraid that I could lose my money without any trace,” recalls Edward Kisekka, a farmer in Zirobwe and member of the SAO Sacco.
Kisekka says that he had been saving and borrowing from this Sacco for more than 10 years and every time he needed a loan, he had to first visit the Sacco premises, fill out a few forms, declare his guarantor, and get the money in cash.
“That’s is how we used to do it; now they were saying I could do all that using a phone,” he says.
Well, while Kisekka was primarily hesitant, he needed just six months to learn and appreciate this service called MSacco.
“People started using it and I realized that it actually worked and I got onboarded too. It is indeed very convenient because I can easily transact with my phone from anywhere, anytime, even at night,” he says.
What is MSacco?
MSacco is a product of FutureLink Technologies, a payment system operator that works to enhance the financial resilience of Africa’s low and middle-income earners through a community-driven digital marketplace for affordable financial services.
According to Vincent Tumwijukye, CEO and co-founder of FutureLink Technologies, the MSacco platform is an omni-channel that enables customers access, assess and choose the most appropriate and affordable financial services.
Tumwijukye says that this platform was designed to help people grow personal savings, access affordable credit, and earn income in form of annual dividends by opening an account with any of the more than 300 Saccos and MFIs that FutureLink works with.
“Regardless of what digital channel a customer prefers to use, (USSD or mobile app), MSacco gives a seamless user experience. So, if you have no relationship with any Sacco, you will be able to easily register. We have integrated with NIRA which means you don’t have to carry many documents; you just submit your NIN and we confirm with NIRA and we will be able to verify you and you join [a Sacco of your choice],” he says.
He adds that after signing up, one can actually request for a loan right away without going to a Sacco and the request will be received and processed in real-time.
“We work with the Credit Reference Bureau. This means that you don’t have to get a credit reference report…you just give us consent and we offer CRB to the lender,” he says.
Tumwijukye says that by introducing a marketplace for saving and lending institutions, FutuLink Technologies has helped many people such as Kisekka to benefit from this platform because of the convenience it brings.
“We have risen to be the kind of platform upon which financial cooperatives across the country are able to rely to access and serve their customers. These cooperatives have a transaction value of over 3.5 trillion and a total loan portfolio of about Shs 400bn. We think that is a demonstration of community resilience,” he says.
Meanwhile, Isaac Yawe, a credit manager at SAO Zirobwe Sacco, says that since they enrolled for MSacco in 2019, business has more than doubled.
“Most of our clients come for boda boda loans, business loans, agricultural loans, school fees loans, etc. Ever since we introduced them to this MSacco platform, the numbers have grown exponentially because now they no longer need to come to our offices to transact,” he says.
Yawe says more women have enrolled to this platform than men.
“This Sacco started in 2003 and we now have over 15,065 members. Around 60 per cent of our members are women while 40 per cent are men. 40 per cent of our women members have enrolled on MSacco compared to 20 per cent of the men that are using this digital platform,” he says.
40 Days 40 FinTechs
FutureLink Technologies is the 22nd participant in season four of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative organised by HiPipo to shine a light on innovative stories changing lives of people at the bottom of the pyramid.
Tumwijukye says that this initiative has played a very critical role in fintech evolution because of the constant engagement between old timers and new entrants which in the end creates market information and the resultant impact.
“For me being part of 40 Days 40 FinTechs is an opportunity to tell my story of 17 years [in this sector which other people can use and learn from],” he said.
The 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative is organised in partnership with the Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner and Crosslake Technologies with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.