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Making access to credit and loan repayment available to anyone, anywhere

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Pocket Money has come up with a marketplace that offers a multi-layered solution that ensures that the borrower is introduced to various potential lenders.

KAMPALA, Uganda, May 13, 2019 – Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of new fintech models, offering alternative financial solutions to the conventional set-ups, more so in the lending sub-sector in Africa. New horizons in the African financial industry are evident with new trends gaining strong traction especially through peer-to-peer (P2P) models-allowing such distinct niches as consumers, SMEs and other borrowers who were hitherto ignored by conventional lenders to access loans more efficiently and expeditiously via digital lending technology.

Be that as it may, financial pundits lament that credit extension in Africa lags behind other regions, noting that while the ratio of credit is only 18 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, comparable figures in South Asia and Latin America are 37 percent and 47 percent respectively.

However, hope is in the air though, with Pocket Money, a digital lending marketplace, determined to transform the financial fortunes of borrowers in Africa by pioneering a ‘cyclic’ lending system that will provide a breath of fresh air even to potential borrowers who had previously been ‘rejected’ by lenders within Pocket Money’s ecosystem.

To address this challenge, Pocket Money has come up with a marketplace that offers a multi-layered solution that ensures that the borrower is introduced to various potential lenders, offering more alternatives that provide the likelihood of a borrower to finally access the loan in the long run.

For instance, more often than not, a borrower may approach a lender for a microloan in cash, but the application, for one reason or another, is rejected, leaving the borrower with very few, or no options at all. The dilemma for the borrower becomes a nightmare especially if he’s a traveler in some regions of the world where access to an online lender is either limited or non-existent-a dire situation that means the end of the road for the borrower.

It is such a predicament that Pocket Money, which is now committed to officially stamp its footprint in Africa, is set to inhibit by developing a global marketplace in which the rejected loan applications are circulated and resubmitted to licensed lenders all over the world with a view to providing them with another chance of accessing the loan. Pocket Money’s ultimate aim is to make this technology available to everyone so that the echo of financial inclusion can resonate in every corner of the world, irrespective of geographic location. By doing so, it has created a marketplace for financial services that brings together financial service providers, customers, and investors into a single global stage.

According to CEO and Co-Founder of Pocket Money, Stefano Virgili, the new marketplace seeks to expand Africa’s financial ecosystem to have a real impact on financial inclusion on the continent.

“Through this unique system that links an array of potential lenders to borrowers, we are able to create a larger pool of clients who will in essence provide revenue sharing with lending businesses located across the world while the borrowers can connect with lenders around the world, breaking the barriers that prevented them from borrowing money from a competitive global marketplace”, says Stefano.

“Conversely”, adds, Stefano, “tech partners can connect to Pocket Money network and develop apps to integrate with fintech solutions while investors can participate in the Pocket Money fundraising as well as the backing of new loans”.

Stefano laments the challenges faced by borrowers in Africa including not having a credit history, therefore, rendering credit scoring almost impossible, loan application rejection partly due to the above or other criteria deficiencies, interests on loans that are prohibitively high, not having enough funds to repay loans, and not being able to borrow from someone abroad, while some lenders face the challenge of running out of cash to service borrowers.

“Pocket Money, therefore, offers solutions to these challenges by innovatively using technology, expanding the financial marketplace and strategic social engagement that reduces the risk of default. These solutions include creating a unique socially enabled Pocket Money Credit Profile that addresses the challenges of credit scoring which is a common criterion used to access borrowers’ repayment risk”, he adds.

Through the new technology, a borrower’s application is circulated through other lenders globally to increase the likelihood of getting a loan. The system ensures that the lender who wins the bid is the one offering the lowest interest, enabling borrowers to have access to competitive repayment rates.

The system, a new fintech technological phenomenon in Africa, is destined to be sweet music to borrowers in Africa for it will significantly attract and increase more aspiring borrowers, thus fostering financial inclusion on the continent.

Suffice it to say, Pocket Money is the easiest way to gain access to credit when rejected by a lender. However, lenders may also face the challenges that include risky borrowers’ profile which might expose financial service providers to uncertainty, unavailability of borrowers in certain markets and the risk posed by manual processes which might have an impact on time and quality of records.

These risks are nevertheless, mitigated by Pocket Money Credit Profile that provides hundreds of data points that give lenders a better risk analysis assessment. Through the marketplace too, lenders can bid on rejected applications anywhere in the world, ensuring there is no scarcity of potential borrowers.

Stefano explains that the Pocket Money ecosystem encompasses a strategic social engagement platform that enables participation with friends and families in surveys and micro tasks to earn loan credits that are particularly beneficial to cooperatives and groups like savings and credit societies as well as informal saving groups at places of work or among friends.

“Further, forex exchange rates in real-time used in this marketplace also facilitate a multi-currency wallet that allows sending money around the world in local currencies. This tool does not only service borrowers and lenders but also serves remittance payments in emerging economies”, says Stefano “in fact, it protects lenders by settling all the B2B transactions in USD.”

He adds that the marketplace is a multi-faceted platform that incorporates simple and intuitive lender dashboard developed by Pocket Money allowing for efficiency in saving processing time and ease of access to borrowers wherever they may be.

The marketplace also supports licensed lenders to ensure their sustainability by supporting some of their cash flow and liquidity challenges through loans made directly to borrowers, provision of third-party lenders and borrowers who use Pocket Money tools and borrowing money at low-interest rates and lending out at slightly higher rates for the service provided.

With Pocket Money, borrowers with high default risks are supported in paying back loans through social repay.

Depending on the country’s availability, Pocket Money users, whether they have borrowed or not, might receive micro-tasks, such as verifying that a billboard contains the poster that the advertiser has paid for, answering a survey, etc.

Such micro-tasks are paid for by brands through existing third-party apps. Each app might reward in a different digital currency, like Smiles for example. The currency can then be used in Pocket Money wallet to purchase USD vouchers that can be gifted to borrowers (i.e. family and friends) or purchased to offset your own loan.

All in All, Pocket Money not only benefits lenders, borrowers and investors; it also helps borrowers to pay back their loans through the use of innovative interoperability payment systems.

The marketplace uses today’s technology in a way that allows individual components of the financial services ecosystem to be open and connected to each other in such a way that was not possible before, creating solutions that are greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Partner lenders such as banks, financial services providers, telecommunication companies and governments who can act as underwriters for loan services will have an opportunity to operate in this marketplace with the advantage of having a larger market of customers locally, regionally and internationally.

Currently domiciled in Singapore, Pocket Money is now set on establishing its footprints in Africa, trailblazing what is destined to be a unique credit-lending marketplace that will undoubtedly transform the continent’s lending sub-sector.

Pocket Money.

 

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ITFC and OCP Africa unite for the strategic financing, innovation, and capacity building of agriculture in Africa

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ITFC CEO Eng Hani Salem Sonbol and CEO OCP Africa Mr Karim Lotfi Senhadj(Image: ITFC)

ITFC and OCP Africa will jointly introduce a new “OCP School lab” campaign in Senegal in November 2019

RABAT, Morocco, October 21, 2019- The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, and OCP Africa, a subsidiary of OCP SA, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will cater towards strategic funding, innovation and capacity building measures to increase agricultural production yields and income levels for Africa’s smallholder farmers. The agreement was signed between Mr Karim Lotfi Senhadji, CEO, OCP Africa and ITFC CEO, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol.

The MoU will increase collaboration between ITFC and OCP Africa in various areas, including  smallholder farmer training on sound agricultural practices; soil testing and fertility management to support better yields; innovation and digitalization tools to modernize agricultural practices; and capacity building and support of young farmers for sustainable and inclusive development.

Commenting on the MoU, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO, ITFC, said that the cooperation with OCP Africa is in line with ITFC’s mandate to support the development of strategic value chains in countries member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). “The services provided by ITFC in the agricultural sector, both in terms of trade financing and tactial support, has expanded significantly over the past years, targeting critical areas of the value chain, from farm input to processing, pre-export, and export. The sector is also one of the value chains that is ready for innovation and SME development.”

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OCP Africa’s CEO, Karim Lotfi Senhadji said, “The smallholder farmer is central to OCP Africa’s strategy to support the transition of farming communities from subsistence farming to modern, sustainable agri-business. Our aim is to strengthen the continent’s agriculture ecosystems thus enabling African farmers to prosper. The agreement with ITFC will support efforts to train farmers on best farming practices, test soils for accurate fertilizer recommendations, facilitate access to financing, and improve access to markets”.

ITFC and OCP Africa will jointly introduce a new “OCP School lab” campaign in Senegal in November 2019. A flagship program of OCP Africa, OCP School Lab is an innovative program aimed at increasing the yields and the incomes of smallholder’s farmers on strategic crops by offering a full set of agri-services:

  • A School: interactive training sessions with live demos on good agricultural practices and animated videos in local dialects for higher impact
  • A mobile Lab: Soil-testing using latest innovations (X-rays, big data and machine learning) and live information on soil needs and fertilizer recommendations

ITFC has been providing significant support to ensure food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2018, trade finance approvals for the food & agriculture sector amounted to US$749.6 million, representing 14.4% of the total trade finance portfolio, a 71% increase compared to the previous year. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 50% of ITFC’s food & agriculture sector financing extended in 2018.

International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC).

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Egypt urges World Bank, IMF to support regional integrity in Africa

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CAIRO – 18 October 2019: Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr called on the World Bank and IMF to boost their support to Egypt in achieving regional integrity and intra-trade in Africa, a press release on Friday read.

Addressing the Intergovernmental Group of 24 on International Monetary Affairs and Development in Washington, Nasr called on the WB and International Monetary Fund to expand investments in the region.

The minister said that Egypt’s vision to face the slowdown in global economic growth and trade tensions is to achieve more economic integration and continue to take the path of reform to make our economies more competitive and attractive for investment, to achieve the aspirations of the world countries in growth and development.

Nasr explained that the Egyptian government has implemented a comprehensive economic and social reform program to promote sustainable growth, alleviate poverty, create good jobs, enable the private sector to promote growth, and provide opportunities for all sectors of society to participate in the economy, especially women and young entrepreneurs.

The Minister added that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as the chairman of the African Union, has set the achievement of regional economic integration as a top priority.

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Nasr also discussed Wednesday with the World Bank the provision of $500 million for the pollution control and solid waste management project in Egypt.

Nasr added in a statement that Egypt is also discussing with the World Bank raising the level of partnership to support the health and education sectors in Egypt.

For his part, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Farid Belhadj affirmed that Egypt is a very important country for the bank’s fields of work.

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“Therefore the World Bank is keen to contribute effectively to the efforts exerted to achieve development in Egypt, especially in the field of infrastructure, in light of the economic and legislative reform that contributed to improving the investment climate in Egypt,”Belhadj explained.

Egypt Today

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African Development Bank inks €12.5 million deal with Adiwale Fund for SMEs

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The African Development Bank on Thursday signed off on its €12.5 million equity investment in Adiwale Fund 1, a first-generation private equity fund targeting high growth potential Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in francophone West Africa.

The Bank Group’s board of directors approved the investment in March as part of its commitment to grow  SMEs and improve livelihoods in countries underserved by the global equity market.

With a target fund size of €75 million, the Fund will take minority stakes in vibrant SMEs in countries where economic prospects and the Fund’s networks permit a rapid scale up.

Deal size for the Fund will range from €3 to €8 million. Primary target countries will include Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali, while secondary beneficiaries will include Togo, Benin and Guinea.

Across these economies, some of which are fragile states, the Fund will target three sectors: consumer goods and services, including education and health; business services such as transport, logistics, information technology and construction, and manufacturing, including pharmaceuticals, agri-processing and chemicals.

Abdu Mukhtar, Director for Industrial and Trade Development said the Fund’s investment strategy is aligned with the Bank’s High 5 goals especially ‘Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa and Improving the Quality of Life for the People of Africa’.

“The most exciting part is that the Fund focuses on SMEs in francophone West Africa which accounts for nearly 19% of West Africa’s GDP but attracts only 7% of private equity capital. As these companies grow, they cross the borders and integrate across different countries,” Mukhtar remarked as he signed and exchanged deal documents with the Fund Manager’s co-founder Jean-Marc Savi de Tové.

Established in 2016, the Fund Manager, Adiwale Partners, houses a team of experienced West African nationals with several decades of combined private equity, operational, development finance and asset management experience in Africa, Europe and the United States.

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From a development perspective, the Bank’s equity investment will provide growth capital to African SMEs, resulting in spill-over effects on job creation and tax revenues, with about 45% of the jobs going to women, Mukhtar said.

Savi de Tové said the Fund will also provide local entrepreneurs with management expertise and boost best-in class corporate governance and human capital development, which ultimately unlocks growth and supports economic transformation.

African Development Bank

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