Catalytic government initiatives like Emyooga and the Parish Development Model have led to a surge in savings and credit cooperative organizations (SACCOs) — now at 33,000 and the need for apps to improve their operations.
Many members of these SACCOs join savings groups to raise funds to educate their children, elevate their standard of living, and secure money for medical emergencies or unexpected financial crises, among other reasons. Yet, amid these ambitious aspirations lies a myriad of challenges. SACCOs face a multifaceted array of hurdles, such as a dearth of financial resources for new ventures, a lack of streamlined computerized systems, and the cumbersome task of financial reporting.
Amidst these impediments, a glimmer of hope emerged, an innovative solution, a mobile application dubbed, the Kabokisi app — which in 2023 won the MTN MoMo Hackathon, and its recipients received USD$5,000 (approx. UGX19 million) cash prize that would further be used to improve and grow the app.
The MTN MoMo Hackathon 2023 was the third edition and was held under the theme “Innovative Financial and Transactional Applications”. The hackathon is an innovative platform designed by MTN Mobile Money (U) Limited to bring together visionary web developers and entrepreneurs from across Africa.
The hackathon aims to harness the power of technology and creativity to accelerate financial inclusion and drive the digitization of payments across Africa. A key feature of the hackathon was that all developers and entrepreneurs created groundbreaking mobile applications that leverage the MTN Mobile Money Application Programming Interface (APIs).
Consequently, these applications all utilize modern capabilities of V2.1 apps such as the ability to make notifications, carry out Know Your Customer (KYC) operations, KYC, and authorization among other things. The apps also enjoy V2.2 (Channel as a Service) capabilities to cover use cases beyond payments, thereby fostering a comprehensive and inclusive digital financial ecosystem.
The Kabokisi app developed by a team of three; Paul Barasa Ojiambo (as the team lead), Emmanuel Modi, and Lilian Katsiime, has become a beacon of light for revolutionizing community savings.
“Most of these SACCOs lack professional accounting services or specialized tracking software that aligns with their specific needs and therefore, managing borrowed funds and tracking returns becomes an intricate web, often leading to discord among members,” said Ojiambo. Adding “Manual financial data entry is riddled with errors, and this can cause internal conflicts and cast doubt upon members’ contribution balances.”
Ojiambo elaborated that the Kabokisi app was meticulously crafted to alleviate these pain points. It transcends boundaries, offering borderless saving contributions and automating deposits.
“Our app facilitates financial inclusion, creating bridges between diaspora members and their local savings groups,” he says. “It caters to peer groups striving to save professionally, fostering an environment where individuals can embrace technology to enhance their financial lives.”
Kabokisi’s digital arsenal promises to disrupt the norm with its fundraising and auctioning platform, multilingual interfaces including English, Kiswahili, and Luganda, and robust security features.
Some of the functionalities that swayed the judges include how the app ensures precise and individualized tracking of savings and loan amounts for every member involved.
The app maintains accurate records of each member’s contributions and borrowings, thereby providing transparency and accountability within the savings group. In addition, it also offers a structured and organized way for individuals or groups to seek financial support for various purposes like weddings, condolences, parties, or charitable endeavors. This brings formality and transparency to fundraising efforts.
Kabokisi is artificially intelligent leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), and it integrates smart functionalities such as voice-enabled transactions and machine learning capabilities. It learns from users’ saving and borrowing habits, enabling it to estimate personal net worth and even create credit scoring models, enhancing financial insight and decision-making.
Kabokisi’s auctioning platform facilitates the sale of fixed assets owned by savings groups. It enables groups to auction their assets in a structured manner, potentially leading to higher market prices and better bargaining, enhancing the financial value of these assets.
This system helps in organizing and overseeing the financial activities of group members, reducing administrative complexities and fostering transparency within the group.
The app generates detailed financial statements for users or groups. It provides a comprehensive overview of SACCO’s financial activities, aiding in decision-making and planning for the future.
Since hacking and fraud are prevalent today, Kabokisi ensures security through various layers such as biometrics, passcodes, encryption, obscuration, and multi-factor authentication. These measures safeguard user information and transactions, ensuring a secure and trustworthy platform. The app enables peer groups, regardless of their formal registration, to save professionally.
“We’re not just redefining financial tools; we’re reshaping the landscape,” said Ojiambo. “Our vision is to usher in an era where individuals effortlessly navigate their financial goals, celebrating successes and collaborating for communal growth.”
Kabokisi aims to achieve financial inclusion by providing secure money storage for the unbanked who are English illiterate, by providing an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platform for those without smartphones.