If you’ve come across “Area 51 raid” or saw the phrase trending all over social media this past weekend, you might be wondering what’s…
Bernie Akporiaye, who in 2015 co-founded Senegalese digital financial services platform MaTontine along with his sister Dr Tosan Oruwariye, believes that Senegal will draw today’s game with Colombia and make it to the next round of 16.
“I believe we can make it to (the) quarter finals. Senegal has a tough group but I believe we will qualify with Colombia,” says Akporiaye (pictured above).
MaTontine provides the financially excluded in Francophone Africa with access to small loans and other financial services like micro-insurance.
Akporiaye says the startup is addressing a problem being faced by a number of customers — lack of access to small loans at reasonable costs.
MaTontine co-founder Bernie Akporiaye says the fintech startup is looking to expand into Ivory Coast next year
“We solve the customer problem by utilising mobile phones and our platform to digitise the benefits of traditional savings circles (tontines in Francophone Africa), thereby reducing the cost of borrowing by 75% or more,” he explains.
The startup is looking to expand into Ivory Coast next year, with the help of its partners. “We consider ourselves a regional Francophone company. Our mantra is ‘Nail it in Senegal and Scale it in Francophone Africa’,” he says.
Akporiaye says the founders, who were born in Africa, grew up abroad “witnessing so much negative images of Africa” and wanted to help provide solutions.
“We wanted to be part of the generation of Africans who could help solve some of the challenging problems that exist in Africa,” he says.
“We were inspired by the fact there are a lot of indigenous financial systems in Africa that worked much better than modern banking systems,” he adds, however he points out that participants of these traditional systems did not benefit accordingly.
“Specifically, we saw Africans behaving financially responsibly within tontine groups and felt that they were not being adequately rewarded for that behaviour. Hence we created MaTontine. We wanted to update the traditional model of tontines using technology, but without significantly changing the underlying existing rules,” explains Akporiaye.
Consequently, he adds, the startup — which re-launched in February with new partners that include Cofina Senegal, SUNU Assurances, and Wari — was able to offer access to a range of financial services, like loans and insurance, based on the financial behaviour of tontine members.
‘We’re like Idrissa Gana Guéye’
Since launching operations in 2016, MaTontine’s founding duo has raised $800 000 in grants and convertible debt, including a £250 000 grant from the GSMA Accelerator Fund in February. The startup’s other backers include CGAP and the DRK Foundation.
The startup has gone on to win the Seedstars Dakar 2017 pitch competition and was a finalist of the 2016 Orange Social Venture Prize.
Akporiaye likens his startup to Senegalese midfielder Idrissa Gana Guéye — whose attempt at goal was deflected by Polish defender Thiago Rangel resulting in Senegal’s opening goal for the tournament — “because of his generosity, humility and hard work for the benefit of the team”.
We hope Akporiaye’s prediction for the game, which kicks off at 4pm Central African Time, is right on the money.
This piece, harbouring the spirit of the World Cup, is part of a 12-part series in which Ventureburn aims to draw attention to and celebrate African innovation and African startups.
African results so far:
Egypt 0-1 Uruguay (Group A, 15 June)
Morocco 0-1 Iran (Group B, 15 June)
Nigeria 0-2 Croatia (Group C, 16 June)
Tunisia 1-2 England (Group G, 18 June)
Senegal 2-1 Poland (Group H, 19 June)
Egypt 1-3 Russia (Group A, 19 June)
Morocco 0-1 Portugal (Group B, 20 June)
Nigeria 2-0 Iceland (Group D, 22 June)
Tunisia 2-5 Belgium (Group G, 23 June)
Senegal 2-2 Japan (Group H, 24 June)
Egypt 1-2 Saudi Arabia (Group A, 25 June)
Morocco 2-2 Spain (Group B, 25 June)
Nigeria 1-2 Argentina (Group D, 26 June)
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Featured image: Maxime Bayen via Twitter