Financial Inclusion of low income earners- A Fintech success story

Bernie Akporiaye launched MaTontine in 2015. His objective was to provide a digital financial services platform so as to unlock access to financial services for the financially excluded in Africa. MaTontine goes back to a system used all over Africa called Tontines in Francophone Africa and sometimes called saving circles in other parts of Africa. Read more about this success story.

Can you please introduce yourself?

I am Bernie Akporiaye, the co-founder & CEO of MaTontine. My speciality is financial software. My personal mission is to help reduce poverty in Africa through entrepreneurship and technology. I have has worked for over 20 years in Africa and elsewhere around the world.

Can you please introduce MaTontine?

MaTontine provides access to small loans and a range of financial services like microinsurance to the financially excluded in Francophone Africa via basic mobile phones. The problem for our customers is that they do not have access to small loans at reasonable costs. We solve the problem by utilizing mobile phones and our platform to digitize the benefits of traditional savings circles (ROSCAs), thereby reducing the cost of borrowing by 75% or more.

Why MaTontine? What client needs does it answer?

The big problem we are trying to solve though is how to lend small amounts like USD 100 profitably and at scale to the 1 billion people in Africa who are financially excluded. The banks and microfinance institutions cannot do it with their current cost structure. Consequently, the end user does not have access to financial services that are easily available, accessible, and affordable. The solution is a combination of technology, partnerships, and leveraging existing, traditional systems.

How long did it take you to commercialize MaTontine
Two years

What challenges did you have to face?

Our biggest challenge has been regulatory. We have found the regulators to be very inflexible. It seems to me that the financial services rules used to regulate today’s FinTech companies were designed decades ago for legacy financial institutions. We also found it difficult to form partnerships. The reality of the situation is that in Africa, one is dependent on the infrastructure of large companies like operators and insurers to deliver one’s services. These companies have very little motivation to work with small start-ups, so getting access to the decision-makers in these large companies to form partnerships is difficult.

What are the keys to success for a start-up like yours?

The keys to success for MaTontine and similar start-ups are a friendly regulatory environment, easier access to strategic partners, a simple and intuitive customer experience, and the ability to attract and retain senior management.

What are the key figures for MaTontine so far?

• We want to provide financial services to 1 million women over the next five years
• 90% of our members are women
• Till date, the default rate on loans provided has been 0%
• USD 100,000 lent to 1,000 in the past quarter
• The average contribution (savings) is USD 30 per month
• The average loan size is USD 170

• The current services are loans, life insurance, and health insurance
• 5,000 members by December, 2018
• USD 500,000 in loans by December, 2018
• USD 1 million in savings on the platform by December, 2018


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