Intelligent CIO Africa Issue 43 | Page 51

CASE STUDY Mukuru has been at the forefront of technology launching a multitude of cutting-edge initiatives designed to solve problems for the African migrant diaspora. This year has seen it launch Mukuru Groceries – a service that is giving SADC based customers the ability to send groceries to their families and communities back home in Zimbabwe. At a time when many families are struggling to obtain basic commodities, Mukuru Groceries will help support Zimbabwe’s large diaspora in their quest to send critical financial resources to families back home. The company has also formed a partnership with WorldRemit, a leading global online money transfer service, to facilitate money transfers to Zimbabwe from across the globe. The partnership will be instrumental in bringing world-class financial services to Zimbabweans and generating new synergies for African financial inclusion. The company, which has processed just under 50 million transactions, focuses on mobile technology and comprehensively caters for customers that have the most basic phones. “On the one end of the customer engagement channels we make extensive use of USSD strings. It’s zero-rated so it’s free to the end-user,” said Jury. “This has been complemented by other technologies as they have become available. We were one of the first users of the WhatsApp business channel in Africa, launched in early 2019, which is far simpler to use, there’s less spooling and timeout, and it’s a cleaner interface for multi-step transactions.” The company makes use of .Mobi sites and apps that can be used on smartphones, it also utilises .Net, PHP, Android, HTML, javascript and Flutter among others, and has deployed AWS for hosting technology. “The core engine of the transactional capabilities can work on one bar of edge in northern Malawi and we’ve tried to ensure that a customer journey can be enabled, regardless of the type of device that they have,” said Jury. We asked Andy Jury, CEO of Mukuru, further questions about the company’s operations and deployment of technology. Can you tell me about the company’s background? There are large migratory patterns where people move across borders in search of economic opportunity – generally they congregate in big urban hubs, such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Gaborone and Lusaka. IN AFRICA, THERE’S THIS MASSIVE INFORMAL REMITTANCE MARKET WHERE MONEY GOES HOME IN BUSES, IN COFFEE TINS, HIDDEN IN SOCKS AND OTHER CLOTHING ITEMS. Many of them are financially underserved or underbanked, and the only ways that they could get their money home was either to stand in the queue with the traditional money transfer operators, get treated like a transaction, get charged high fees for the amounts that they wanted to send, or send it via informal channels that have high real and opportunity costs. In Africa, there’s this massive informal remittance market where money goes home in buses, in coffee tins, hidden in socks and other clothing items. There’s a big opportunity cost, it’s fraught with risks, it’s unregulated – you’re dropping money off at a bus station and two weeks later, it might get to the destination, but it might not and the entire time there is a communication blackout. Our initial focus was looking specifically at formalising that informal market and it has turned out to be a pretty large addressable market. INTELLIGENTCIO 51