Mobinvest - Accelerating community financial collaboration and wealth creation through mobile technology
Innovative,new,easy to use approach to managing group savings for loans and investment using a mobile phone. Helps in unlocking a savings groups true potential.
About Your Organization
Kenya, NA, Nairobi
Country where this project is creating social impact
Kenya, NA, Nairobi
Is your organization a
How long has your organization been operating?
Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them
We have received awards in banking, technology and microfinance. These include AITEC Africa banking conference Best product,(aitecafrica.com) CIO100 honoree top 100 technology company(cio.co.ke), Pivot East technology competition(pivoteast.com), and Tandaa grant for ICT development in Kenya(tandaa.co.ke) We have also received recognition and have worked with organizations such as the world bank, IMF, African union and the Government of Rwanda.
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)
How long have you been in operation?
Operating for less than a year
Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two
Access, Cost, Transparency.
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Africans are saving and investing more of their own money.Currently,1 in every 3 adult Kenyans belongs to a savings group. Many communities excluded from formal financial systems use village savings and loans groups as their tool to financial inclusion
They however lack transparency, accountability, security and convenience, which affect leadership, growth and direction. Consequently they seldom grow to their true potential with most disintegrating along the way.
They can overcome these challenges with financial collaboration tools that combine mobile technology and micro-finance using SMS/Internet technology accompanied with financial literacy training. Enabling and accelerating group micro-finance unlocks the doors to sustainable growth,development and empowerment of communities.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
This project delivers a mobile and web application, that allows micro banking and saving of funds in groups (Chamas). It will enhance accountability, security and transparency of transactions through mobile technology and mobile payments.
Groups use a pen and paper system to record their transactions and later on analyze the data manually. This however poses a challenge in quick decision-making, transparency and accountability. Our system replaces this with and easy to use mobile-based system through which transactions are recorded and analysis is available in real time to all. It is secure giving each stakeholder access to the information when they want thus increasing transparency. This is ultimately what brings sustainable growth and progress and all through an easy to use and familiar way.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
Adikinyi has formed a savings and loans group in the village with 20 of her friends. They meet each weekend for 1 hour to contribute to their kitty, get loans and discuss group projects. Adikinyi is the treasurer of the group and finds it hard every time to track who has not paid their contributions or fines and loan repayments. He wishes he could remind the members automatically of their dues to the group before they meet, as some usually have no idea. One huge headache is ascertaining how much any member has contributed since they started and how much they owe the group. If he had this information quickly, the group would make faster decision about giving out loans. This would also help when dissolving the group at Christmas time as people get their share profits.
Our solution enables Adikinyi‘s group to overcome the challenges above by using a mobile phone instead of a book. As the meeting proceeds he would record each transactions specific to the member on his cell phone. At the end all transactions are verified and authorized by the secretary and chairman who have secure secret PINs. It goes further by allowing members unable to make it to the meeting to send their contributions through mobile money. Now ,meetings are about progress and less about housekeeping.
Adikinyi’s group is facilitated by a CBO called HAKISHEP, which runs over 50 of such groups. HAKISHEP is very happy to have real-time, accurate information about all their groups, something that was very laborious for them to do before.They need this information for their donors and government agencies.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Micro-finance institutions such as MUSONI and Banks such as KCB dominate the Groups savings and loans landscape. We work to enhance the service they offer while giving independent groups the same leverage they would have with a formal banking system. Other stakeholders are NGOS like FSD, CARE and Mercy Corp who target the same users offering similar products and facilitation in starting savings groups.
Technology-wise, there are about 4 companies in Kenya seriously trying to tackle the problem by providing mobile-based management solution for groups. We are excited to be in such a vibrant and competitive place and to be key contenders.
The market is so massive that being a key player now guarantees a good degree of success.Our current pilots in Nairobi are also key to our success.
This Entry is about (Issues)
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
Coming from an African upbringing, the term “chama” or “savings group” has become synonymous to rural sustainability and development. But for many, it symbolized a cushion that many mothers used to shield their families from the adversities and uncertainties of life. It is that shoulder to lean on when relatives, banks and even churches fail.
As a key financial tool for survival, we saw the power of chama’s to change communities. We however did not understand why this amazing vehicle had no youthful passengers. Many members of chamas are elderly women. We wanted to bring it to the youth. We then realised that the youth live in a different generation and we would have to re-invent this concept and leverage on the tools at hand.
Why couldn’t we create a tool that allowed people to create, manage and monitor their savings groups on their mobile phone and enhance the experience using the internet,SMS, mobile money, facebook and twitter?Targeted to Africa’s over 800 million youth
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
We would like to equip communities with the technology needed for economic development. Our solution will accelerate and ease the growth and progress of savings groups. In addition to that, we would like to offer financial literacy for these communities by equipping them with the necessary skills to make sound financial decisions. Communities will be able to pull together funds easily and efficiently and to know the best way to optimize the use of those funds.
Having successfully combined vision, inventiveness and business acumen, we address the needs of the developing world through a pioneering social enterprise that directly addresses local needs in a manner tailored to fit the local environment and requirements while offering a lucrative business proposition.
Which barrier(s) to financial inclusion does your solution seek to address? (select all applicable)
Physical and other accessibility obstacles that prevent communities from reaching financial services, The lack of affordable financial products tailored to the needs of underserved and excluded communities,, Other (Please describe below).
If you selected 'other' above, please specify which other barriers to financial inclusion you solution seeks to address:
Financial management for collaborative rural development
For which underserved or excluded communities will your solution create access to valuable, affordable, secure and comprehensive financial services?
We seek to serve communities in rural and urban areas with low income and little access to formal banking services. We will also target the youth in order to align them towards saving and progress through economically focused projects.
Our primary market entry strategy is to initially target these communities through Community based organization that already work towards these same-shared goals. There are hundred of such self-help/ welfare group with millions of members in the groups. Starting with this groups, we will be able to interact with the bottom of the pyramid, in order to learn and invent a solution that has high utility, not only in Nairobi, but also all around the globe.
Could your solution work in other geographies or regions? If so, where?
Poverty is a worldwide vice. Many communities in the globe have found that the group saving model is one that provides an adequate financial solution or vehicle to take them out for their poverty and bring progress and growth to those communities. Many NGOs over the world fund and support these initiatives and this constitute a very large industry all over the globe. Consequently, most of these groups in India, Nigeria, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Mexico suffer the same problem we are addressing and therefore our technology is a good fit for their problem.
With mobile penetration increasing every day all over the world and internet becoming more and more accessible, our solution has great potential to be adaptable to an already easy to use and familiar technology, available in many parts of the world
Initially we would be targeting developing countries in Africa, which uniquely have groups savings cultures embedded in their communities such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Nigeria.
If your solution is dramatically successful, how will things be different in 10 years?
We would be thoroughly fulfilled to have played a part in bringing Africa out of poverty. There will be a dramatic decrease in poverty and a huge degree of empowerment of Africans. What’s great about this change is that it would arise not from outside the continent as is the usual scenario with donors and western influence, but from within Africa, because of the Africa spirit of togetherness and collaboration. Africa would be providing solutions, growth and opportunity for Africa
We will enable Africans to grow by themselves at a sustainable pace, create wealth and set precedence for future generations. This would be the African revolution that our continent is awaiting. Africa is ready for this, and the world is awakening to the fact that Africa is the next bread basket of the world and where all opportunity lies. Ten years from now, we will be very wealthy, not just us but the communities we will have worked with
What will have had to have changed to make this happen?
We will have to believe in the power of togetherness and implement a working model around resource allocation and goal setting as we teach people how to be economically liberated. The micro-finance model is already very successful and so for this change to be achieved, there will need to be a paradigm shift towards technology.
Organization leading communities will have to embrace technology and technology philosophy more. The government will have to reduce barriers to technological assimilation to enable affordable access to Internet, mobile phones, telephony to increase uptake of mobile technology. Technology providers will need to reach more people with better affordable devices and products and work with solution providers like ourselves to build tailor made products for the bottom of the pyramid.
Banks, Microfinance bodies and investment unions will need to popularize the group savings culture to make it a default African attribute.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
We have been running the pilot for the last 3 months where we have interacted with groups from 2 CBO in Nairobi (Kibera and Kawangware) region. On the group level, the members are excited to finally go “dot com” as the call it and are happy to embrace the mobile technology as it is simple and gives them instant data and information that they need. The are also happy to discard their old and inefficient way of book keeping which is prone to errors, inconvenient and cumbersome to use. They spend more time on goals, rather than on house-keeping, remembering and accounting
One huge benefactor that we have identified has been the organizations that oversee these groups and rely on their data for planning, growth and fund raising. They have been able to get this very valuable data instantly and subject it to analysis. HAKISHEP that runs 70 groups with over 1000 members now is very optimistic about their sustainability and can measure growth to a very detailed level.
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
Over the next five years, we hope to be operating in at least 3 countries working with about 20 major NGO’s, Banks or Micro-finance institutions in helping people start and manage group savings for loans and investments.
We hope to have echoed the success of MPESA, having transacted over 1 billion Dollars in revenue and making 5%-10% in profits. We are hoping to have a subscriber base of 5-10 million in Kenya alone and up to 15million in the East African region.
We also hope that we can increase the number of savings groups in the region by 50% and stir up as many economic activities and projects run by these groups. We also hope to have given rise to other related innovative products around financial services and financial inclusion
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
The success of our project may be hindered by
1. Lack of proper partnerships to embrace and accelerate adoption
2. Resistance by current market players to change and embrace technology
3. Lack of financial capital to adequately run the business with focus thereby slowing down progress. This by far is the largest success determinant.
4. Lack of proper industry specific business development necessary to deliver the product to market in the best way possible.
We plan to overcome these obstacles by constantly looking for funding sources, grants and partnerships in cash, kind or human resource and knowhow. We will involve all stakeholders from and initial stage to avoid resistance to change. These include the CBO’s, Banks, MFI’s, Government agencies and the users.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
We will have partnered with 1 large CBO/MFI to offer the solution to at least 20 groups on mobile phones and online
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Build Mobile applications for Symbian, Android and J2ME
Create a “how to start and run and manage a savings group” website/blog/brochure
Officially partner with the CBO’s and/or Microfinance institution from the pilot
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Have simple group savings management online portal with mobile apps for major platforms and financial literacy blog
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Build the route to market strategy and budget
Consolidate the team and hire the right people to sell the product
Establish presence for the company by organizing seminars and outreach campaigns plus social networking
Tell us about your partnerships
mLab east Africa is a technological partner and incubator.We have a major Telco partner for Mobile money payments and major consumer bank for bank payments. We are working with two umbrella bodies for the groups that work with the CARE/FSD model for Village savings and loans groups in 3 regions in Nairobi.
We are working on partnering with the government in the ministry of gender and welfare, who are in charge of all savings groups in the country.Lastly a partnership with Kenya association of investment groups is pending as an advisory partner to advice groups on optimizing for growth.
Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your innovation? If so, where and why?
Our current target is Nairobi. The project is in pilot phase and the demographics we are looking for are low income communities with community based organizations facilitating their groups. In short, people who use these groups for survival. A demographic we will also target are middle income, working class people as we see great growth opportunities for the community that will be driven by middle of the pyramid population. The innovation is highly scalable and we will explore other locations are growth is realized
What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?
There is a huge pain in managing groups and their accounting. The high utility for this product is very compelling. Secondly the mobile penetration in Kenya and Africa is rapidly growing. This means more people have mobile phones that are becoming very intimate possession around which life revolves. Thirdly, there is a conducive environment encouraging group savings/investments. The sheer numbers of organization promoting this is a factor that will enable rapid acceptance of our product.
We are working with the ICT board of Kenya, who are keen on seeing the success of this product and have invested in its development. We are experts in building financial systems for mobile and have been involved in great innovations like MKESHO, and have won numerous awards.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
We would be looking to work with developmental organizations that focus on financial inclusion as we expand our offering to those organizations. We think that there is so much more that can be done to accelerate wealth creation through technology.We are a melting pot of innovative ideas that we can carry through and would love to find solutions to life most challenging financial problems in Africa