KAMPALA — Almost everyone has ever received a phone call or text with the person on the other side saying that s/he has an emergency and urgently needs financial assistance.
Such communication takes a lot of guts, and somewhat courage on the side of the requester because reaching out for help is never a guarantee that you will get that help. And usually, when you get a negative response, it is followed by personal embarrassment.
Because emergencies happen daily, employees are always asking for short-term loans and salary advances. Unfortunately, most of these take days before they are processed thus defeating the reasoning behind asking for them, while others are never acted on at all.
Having gone through such predicaments in the past, Paul Kirungi wouldn’t wish to see others go through the same. As such, together with a team of young innovators, he developed Zofi Cash, a digital financial platform that takes care of employees’ financial emergencies before payday.
“We know very well that across Africa, most people are paid once a month. The challenge is emergencies happen every day and most of the time, those emergencies cannot wait for that payday to come at the end of the month. People always need to access financial services that can help them bridge the emergencies – payday gap. So, basically that is the gap we are filling today with Zofi Cash,” Kirungi, the founder and CEO of Zofi Cash, explains the motivation behind this platform.
He adds: “We started working on Zofi Cash in 2019 and then COVID-19 hit. We continued to work on the platform until October 2021 when we launched our maiden product. Since then, we have been serving and people love our services because of our fast turnaround time. People are able to access salary advances in about two minutes.”
Zofi Cash offers salary advances at a very low-interest rate based on the number of days one holds his/her loan before their payday.
“Banks and other financial players are not an option during emergencies as they are stuck in the old ways of requiring security, banking history, and lots of paperwork. Honestly, very few people can pass this sieve. Having experienced this firsthand, we thought to ourselves, what if we made every day a payday? Access to earned wages without waiting for the month’s end to take care of those emergencies that can’t wait for the end of the month. With Zofi Cash, in just two minutes, a salaried employee can access a salary advance. We do this by partnering with employers who extend this service to their employees as a benefit,” Kirungi elaborates.
Zofi Cash is the 13th participant in the 2022 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative organized by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop, ModusBox, and Crosslake Technologies and generously supported by the Gates Foundation.
Now in its third edition, the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative offers participants useful tools and an introduction to the industry’s emerging technologies, such as Mojaloop Open Source Software, and guidance from Level One Project foundational material. The skills gained from this initiative cover Level One Project Principles, Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (IIPS), Inclusive Finance and FinTech in general.
According to Kirungi, Level One Project principles such as Same-Day settlement, Real-Time payments and Accessibility on Low-End Devices are non-negotiable at Zofi Cash because they are best practices for Financial Inclusion.
“We are already working on USSD-enabled lending for employees in rural areas that need access to our services on low-end devices and feature phones. We are gathering data that will continue to guide us on how to effectively build robust financial systems and one of such systems will be USSD based.”
Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO applauds Zofi Cash for using technology to innovate a solution that touches on real day-to-day problems that affect thousands of employees in East Africa and beyond.
“I thank Zofi Cash for coming up with a solution that has the capacity to transform Africa’s Salary and Wages payment system. As HiPipo, our extensive effort and advocacy is partly for the intention of championing digital innovation and interoperable instant and inclusive payment systems (IIPS) in Africa to a point where our innovators enjoy and achieve sound profit margins to help them keep designing and deploying affordable and inclusive financial services for the poor,” he said.