These entrepreneurs earned a spot at the 2016 Unreasonable Institute and they need your help!  Learn more...

Numida Technologies

Uganda

Increasing access to capital for micro, small and medium enterprises in East Africa

$11,595 Raised out of $12,000
-312 Days Remaining

What is the urgent social or environmental need you are addressing?

74% of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in Uganda identify access and the cost of finance as the greatest constraint to their growth. The estimated 450,000 MSME’s generate 90% of private sector production and are the top job creators, but without financing, they operate far below their potential. Since MSME’s are unable to convey their creditworthiness due to their lack of financial records, financial institutions spend significant time and money assessing prospective borrowers. They then pass on these costs to the borrowers in the form of high interest rates and application fees, while reducing their risk with high collateral requirements. Loans become prohibitively expensive and inaccessible, depriving even creditworthy small businesses of capital.

The challenges that financial institutions face in serving small businesses result in this market being underserved, ultimately hindering Uganda’s development by missing the opportunity to create employment, to stimulate the economy, and to increase standards of living for entrepreneurs and their families, staff, and customers. Studies have repeatedly shown that deep financial sectors with a focus on private sector credit generate inclusive national growth.

 

What is your solution to this need? Describe your business strategy

Numida has developed TrackApp, a smart phone application that helps entrepreneurs build reliable financial records to improve their business decisions and demonstrate their creditworthiness to formal lenders. TrackApp makes financial record-keeping easy and incentivizes this often neglected practice by enabling its users to easily share their financial data with lenders, decreasing their barriers to getting a loan. It also helps financial institutions lower their risk and costs, ultimately leading to improved lending terms. The new financial insights that TrackApp generates and the new lending that it facilitates will spur the growth of MSMEs in Uganda, fostering job creation, and generating increased local economic activity.

As for our own financial sustainability, our plan is to charge partner financial institutions for loan facilitation services. We also intend to complement our revenue by finding other ways to monetize anonymized financial and market data, and by issuing some in-app advertisements of value to our users.

 

Convince us it will work. What milestones have you achieved?

Uganda’s current economy offers very limited opportunities for formal employment. The resulting proliferation of small businesses, combined with the smartphone revolution, creates the perfect conditions for TrackApp and Numida’s loan facilitation services to thrive. Numida is already progressing fast – since December 2015, the team has partnered with Financial Sector Deepening Uganda and two micro finance institutions to execute its pilot with 200 entrepreneurs, opened an office in Kampala, and hired 10 local staff. So far, 500 traders in Kampala have signed up to trial TrackApp. The team is on track to begin facilitating its first loans for TrackApp users beginning mid-2016.

 

Catherine Denis
Email this entrepreneur
CEO & Co-Founder
Ben Best
Email this entrepreneur
CTO & Co-founder
Mina Shahid
Email this entrepreneur
Chairman & Co-Founder

About Catherine Denis

Catherine has over 3 years of experience working on innovative projects across Mali, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, and Haiti. With the World Bank Education team in Haiti, Catherine provided analytical support, implemented an innovative monitoring approach for the flagship school feeding program, and helped to shape the vision for the project's next round of financing. Prior to this, Catherine led the operations of EarthEnable Rwanda, a start-up social enterprise bringing affordable and healthy flooring solutions to the poor. Catherine has also worked in smallholder agriculture with Engineers Without Borders Canada in Burkina Faso, where she advised a provincial cooperative of farmers in Burkina Faso on their management practices in order to improve the services offered to members. Catherine’s passion for leveraging the private sector to accelerate development in Africa is what led her to join Numida. She holds an MPA in International Development from Harvard University and a BSc. in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo.

About Ben Best

Ben has over three years of experience advising small and growing businesses in Ghana. As co-founder of Kulemela Investments, Ben led strategy development using IDEO's Human Centered Design Framework. He was also responsible for conducting Kulemela’s first due diligence on their first investment in a commercial guinea fowl producer in Northern Ghana. Prior to this, Ben was a market development strategist with Engineers Without Borders Canada for 2.5 years where he identified leverage points for social impact within the agriculture inputs value chain and subsequently provided technical assistance to Northern Ghana's largest inputs dealer increasing competitiveness and improving customer service to smallholder farmers. Ben is currently a senior software engineer and Head of Tablet Products at the small business customer loyalty start-up FiveStars Inc. in San Francisco. He holds a BSc. in System Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo

About Mina Shahid

Mina has spent the past seven years working in Zambia, Uganda and Ghana to improve opportunities for smallholder farmers and African agribusinesses. As co-founder and Director of Business Development for Kulemela Investments, he invested in Ghanaian agribusinesses within the rice, poultry, maize and vegetable sectors as well as analyzed business models and designed cash-flow lending products. After Kulemela failed, Mina had to choose between the world of social entrepreneurship and finding a corporate job to pay off his debts. With $0 to his name, he translated his learning into $11,000 in seed grants to start Numida. He built a rapid prototype of TrackApp and tested it in Ghana and Uganda, at the same time building an incredible founding team with the necessary skills to take Numida forward. Mina is a 2016 Acumen Global and currently the COO of SiembraViva – a social enterprise that connects organic small-scale farmers to urban consumers. He holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto

Why is your team uniquely qualified to run this venture?

Our team shares a deep passion for unlocking the potential of African entrepreneurs - this is what fuels the fire in our bellies. Though the three co-founders have a common background in engineering, we complement each other remarkably well in terms of skills (management and data analysis / tech development / sales and comms), attitudes (the serious one / the fun one / the keel), perspectives (eternal optimist / constant realist / devil's advocate), and experience & networks (California tech scene / global social enterprise / development economics). We’ve learned a lot from our individual experiences in social entrepreneurship, and now we're putting our energy and talents together to do our part to turn our vision of thriving African small businesses into a reality.