Financial Inclusion Challenge

Selected

PesaKit

PesaKit is a last mile fintech and digital commerce startup building the future of money and commerce in the way people live and work in Africa

Team Lead

Andrew Mutua

Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

PesaKit

What is the name of your solution?

PesaKit

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

PesaKit is a last-mile Fintech and Digital commerce start-up building the future of money and commerce in step with the way people live and work in Africa.

What specific problem are you solving?

Sub Saharan Africa has more than 44M small and growing businesses that account for more than 70% of retail trade and financial access through a vast network of offline mobile money agents and merchants serving low and middle-income populations. The retail mobile money agents and merchants have a ~200x more reach to the last-mile population than formal financial  institutions, but their uncoordinated access to essential goods and financial services threatens their ability to meet rising demand for mobile financial services, e-commerce fulfillment, and access to essential services like microinsurance. The mobile money agents and merchants remain fragmented, making their supply chains expensive, inefficient and only 10% of these businesses access commercial bank lending as they are perceived of high risk. The agents and merchants are therefore vulnerable to unreliable and limited access to working capital loans and irregular supply of the goods or services they need to serve their customers effectively and operate profitably.

What is your solution?

PesaKit is revolutionizing the inefficient and costly business environment of mobile money agents and retail traders in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have built a consolidated and interoperable platform that provides mobile money agents, and merchants with seamless access to digital financial services, credit, and e-commerce fulfillment, enabling them to run profitable enterprises at the last mile. For the past 3 years we have worked closely with over 63,000 mobile money agents and merchants. Through this engagement we have gained a deep understanding of their pain points and as a result we have developed efficient technology rails for the financial services, retail and e-commerce distribution to the last mile in Africa. Through our mobile platform the agents and merchants access:

  • Financial services: Agents and merchants access a unified wallet for their transactions, digital and data-driven loans, digital micro-insurance, and cash-in cash-out (CI/CO) services. Our digital loans include, just in time float loans for mobile money agents, asset loans such as smartphones and working capital loans for the merchants

  • Retail (B2B): Merchants access the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) inventory ordering service and the delivery of the inventory from distributors near them

  • E-commerce (B2C): Agents act as fulfillment points for 3rd party e-commerce online purchases through our platform

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

The PesaKit platform is a multi-function tool providing digital financial and e-commerce services to mobile money agents and merchants as they serve millions of low and middle income populations. The status quo leaves mobile money agents and merchants operating in fragile markets and their small size and fragmentation render them risky resulting to 90% of these businesses having limited or no access to commercial lending and reliable supply chains.

 To be the best and lasting alternative, we have created a B2B2C model with mobile money agents and merchants at its core and integrated with over 30+ partners. This is enabling the underserved mobile money agents and merchants to access working capital loans, productive asset loans, e-commerce order fulfillment, BNPL retail inventory ordering, and other essential services such as sim card registration, sale of digital airtime and micro-insurance and the payment of utility bills. 

In addition to the centralized financial and e-commerce solutions, PesaKit, agents and merchants and our partners earn income from the diverse commercial transactions making our B2B2C model a win-win-win model for all. Since product launch in October 2020, the company has grown to serve over 63,000 agents and merchants and we aim to be the ultimate one stop super platform for 450,000+ agents and merchants in the next 5 years. 

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

We have built a 100% locally based team with over 50 years of combined experience providing innovative solutions to the local communities. Our CEO and founder, Andrew Mutua, has spent the past decade building products that focus on financial services, digital transformation, integration, middleware, and platform engineering for African-based banks and insurance companies.

 This experience has given us a deep understanding of building products and services that scale for the African consumer. Moreover, our team consists of back-end and front-end software engineers, as well as customer experience professionals, who have first-hand experience working with small and medium-sized businesses in creating and implementing simple yet impactful solutions. 

Finally, we built a feedback loop with our customers in the local communities to provide us reviews through the online platform and our door to door visits to ensure that we are fully aware of the consumer trends, and the evolution of the markets. This has given us a proven track record of iterating on our products based on customer feedback and as a result continually improving our products that are able to deliver cutting-edge solutions that meet the changing needs of our customers.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Other

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Nairobi,Kenya

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model that is rolled out in one or more communities

How many people does your solution currently serve?

We have on boarded over 63,000 mobile money agents and merchants that have reach to over 25M consumers. 

Why are you applying to Solve?

The MIT Solve program offers us a unique opportunity to showcase our innovative solutions to a global audience, including potential partners and investors. By participating in this program, we hope to expand our network and gain access to mentorship, potential collaborations, and funding opportunities that will be crucial to accelerating the growth and impact of our solution.  

At PesaKit, we are firm believers in the power of collaboration and sharing knowledge. Through the MIT Solve program, we are excited to support other founders by sharing the market lessons, including market entry, expansion, and regulatory establishment we have learnt from operating across four African countries. Overall, the MIT Solve program is an excellent opportunity for us at PesaKit to showcase our African mobile money and retail trade environments solution on a global stage. 

We are eager to engage with the Solve community and leverage this opportunity to drive growth and impact for our solution and the communities we serve.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. delivery, logistics, expanding client base)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Andrew Mutua

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

PesaKit has successfully implemented an asset-light technology-driven business model that is providing the fragmented informal sector with the critical technology infrastructure for financial, retail trade, and e-commerce services. Our model is user-centered enabling us to proactively adapt our solutions to serve the pressing needs of the agents and merchants. Also, PesaKit has developed strong partnerships that relieve us from having to own or set up any intensive capital infrastructure. 

This ensures that we can easily roll out new products and tap into new markets by leveraging these partnerships. We have tailored our products to be sticky and lock in users by embedding finance and e-commerce in our B2B2C model which has created a win-win-win for PesaKit, our partners and agents and merchants. In addition, our proprietary tech, AI algorithms and APIs allow the deployment of offline to online (o2O) commerce while scaling the interoperability of our services. 

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Financial and digital inclusion: PesaKit is democratizing the access to financial services and e-commerce at the last mile by strengthening the mobile money agents’ and merchants’ access to these services. The agents and merchants are the primary access points of goods and services by the low- and middle-income or underserved populations. Our platform is providing a range of financial services and products that are affordable, appropriate, and convenient. This includes access to working capital loans, productive asset loans and BNPL inventory ordering. We have also streamlined the payment of the utility bills, access to microinsurance and digital financial products such as airtime which ease the day to day lives of the people at the last mile. Over the past 3 years we have served over 63,000 mobile money agents and merchants who have access to ~25M end customers at the last mile. With the continued adoption of our solutions, we are on the trajectory to serve 475,000 agents and merchants with the potential to reach 55M low and middle income customers at the last mile in the next 5 years. 

Improving transaction efficiency and transparency as result increasing the earning potential of agents and merchants: Our B2B2C business model allows our agents and merchants to earn upto 70% commission on the transaction that they oversee and save on the high interests they would have incurred borrowing from shylocks. Additionally, our platform provides insights to these agents and merchants to enable them to make data-informed decisions to better manage their operations. We conducted a survey with 60_db on our agents and merchants where 56% reported an increased quality of life and 31% reported increase in income due to the PesaKit platform. We are committed to continue refining our offerings to expand these outcomes to our growing base of agents and merchants.

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

At PesaKit we are keen on data informed decisions as our platform impacts the people at the bottom of the pyramid. As the first point of capturing and monitoring our progress on the impact goals, we have developed an internal system that enables us to track key metrics such as new users, product adoption rates, customer satisfaction, transactions and any feedback from the customers. These information helps us to iterate and refine our products and services to better meet the needs of the merchants and agents.

 Additionally, we have created a feedback loop where our field champions conduct door to door visits in select areas to interact with our customers, understand their journey on using our platform and obtain firsthand sentiments on the social impact that our platform has created. From these interactions we are able to put a face to our solution and identify the opportunities to further advance our social impact.

What is your theory of change?

PesaKit's core objective is to improve the lives and livelihoods of mobile money agents and merchants serving low- and middle-income populations across Africa. We believe that by consolidating fragmented supply chains and providing affordable access to working capital and productive asset loans, we can empower our users to offer expanded digital financial services to their customers, catalyzing positive social and economic outcomes. 

To achieve this goal, we've taken a proactive approach to developing and implementing a range of strategic activities. These include the development of a user-friendly mobile application, integration with over 30 key financial and non-financial partners, and securing 7 regulatory licenses. These activities have enabled us to achieve significant outputs, such as establishing operations in four countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ghana), and empowering our merchants to access working capital and productive asset loans, and offer additional digital financial services to their customers, including sim card registration and utility payments. As a result of these activities and outputs, we're seeing positive outcomes for our mobile money agents and merchants, who are playing a vital role in shaping the financial and e-commerce landscape in their communities. 

In a recent survey, 77% of mobile money agents and merchants on our platform reported that they did not have a better alternative to access the services we offer, while 56% reported an improvement in their quality of life. This feedback underscores the importance of our sustainable and impactful approach to improving the lives of our target users, and motivates us to continue to drive positive change across the African continent

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

PesaKit’s comprehensive digital financial and e-commerce solution is provided via a user-friendly mobile application that leverages advanced financial algorithms to facilitate lending and other financial services, including the sale of airtime and SIM card registration. 

Our platform also integrates cutting-edge e-commerce technology and retail APIs that enable our agents and merchants to easily manage and purchase their inventory, fulfill orders, and access the buy-now-pay-later options. Whether they are a borrower seeking financing or a merchant looking to expand your business, our technology has been designed to provide a seamless and efficient experience for the mobile money agents and merchants. 

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Software and Mobile Applications
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

16 full time staff 1 consultant

How long have you been working on your solution?

PesaKit has been in existence for 3 years. In those 3 years, PesaKit has come a long way since its inception in 2019. We started with an idea to improve the lives of mobile money agents and merchants in Africa, and have since gone on to launch our solution in 2020, achieve post-revenue in 2021, and

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

At PesaKit, we prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) in our work. We are intentional and proactive in creating a workplace culture that values and respects differences. We recognize that diversity brings unique perspectives and experiences to our team, which leads to better decision-making and innovation.

 To date, we have taken steps to ensure diversity in key positions in management and software development, which has helped to promote equity and inclusivity in our decision-making process. 

As we continue to grow, we are committed to attracting diverse talent and promoting inclusion in our hiring process. We believe that our mission, vision, and values align with the principles of DEI and will help us to create a welcoming environment for all. Going forward, we will continue to monitor and measure our progress towards achieving our DEI goals and measure metrics such as employee retention, diversity in hiring, and employee satisfaction surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of our DEI initiatives.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

We have developed and successfully deployed a B2B2C business model with the agents and merchants at the core. With rigorous fine tuning and validating our model we have reached over 63,000 agents and merchants with a clear value proposition. The PesaKit platform provides a seamless interface for the mobile money agents and merchants who are the customers for the products on the platform and digital finance and e-commerce service providers. In addition to the products on the platform, we have built a simple and efficient mobile platform/ application for agents and merchants that is proving critical for their day-to-day operations. Our technology leverages our understanding of the agents and merchants’ pain points and the best-in-class algorithms and APIs to provide a user-friendly service and data informed insights for the agents and merchants

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

Over the 3 years of operations, PesaKit has been primarily financed through equity investments and catalytic grants. We are currently raising our Seed Round equity and debt to further expand the adoption of solutions and set up in new markets. The new investment will allow us to solidify our presence in the current operational geographies i.e., Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ghana and allow us to tap into other emerging markets such as Ethiopia, Zambia, and DRC. The debt will scale our lending services to the merchants and agents through on-lending the capital. Currently, investors are across the investment processes, we have 3 already moving into due diligence before going to their investment committees for a final decision while 5 investors are at the onset of investment discussions. We have already secured 20% of the funding in soft commitments and our founder and existing investors are open to participating in this round.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

Since inception we have grown our revenues from $19,045 in 2020 to $526,403 in 2022, marking a remarkable ~550% CAGR. As an highlight of how successful we have been in deploying funds, we received a grant of $50,000 from IDEO.org that enabled us to launch a market place that saw 400 user adopt the solution. Additionally, to expand our financial inclusion solution, Catalyst Fund and Rockefeller Foundation provided us with $100K grants that was critical for us to set up our mobile application that has onboarded over 63,000 agents and merchants serving over 25M low and middle income people. 

Solution Team

 
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