Part 1: #Datahacks4Fi Story Series
Tech Team: UPlus
Dianne Dusaidi- CEO and Clement Muhirwa- CTO
The UPlus duo developed a FinTech (Financial Technology) Application called UPlus Mutual partners that brings people together to create wealth. They are a self-funded start-up that developed the UPlus app that is active on Web, Android, iOS and is soon-to-be included on USSD (phones that aren't smartphones).
The team won $US 2000 taking second place among 30 different competing teams at Kigali’s #DataHacks4Fi competition. The purpose of the competition was to converge various ‘data specialists (analysts and software developers) and Financial Service Providers (FSPs) to leverage tools and technologies for crowdsourcing data-driven solutions to real-world problems.’
Dianne Dusaidi, the C.E.O of UPlus has an MBA in ‘Mobile Money Cross Border Transfers’ that she wanted to apply in a concrete way.
“UPlus is a side-hustle for everyone. Its like having your own business in your pocket,” said Dusaidi.
“When I met with Clement we decided to do something on Crowd funding which expanded into group savings and social contributions that is common in Rwanda especially when people come together to plan and contribute for weddings.
“Our app is a good example that shows that technology is a tool to better your life. UPlus allows people to plan and save for upcoming weddings, social fundraising events like for baby showers, corporate functions and also opportunities to invest in simple government bonds,” she explained.
“UPlus is a side-hustle for everyone. Its like having your own business in your pocket" ~ Dianne Dusaidi.
The app includes a service for investment so that people could earn an interest from their savings. Even though it took them over a year and a half to finalise the development of their Application, they were able to come up with a holistic solution that was relevant to todays market.
“We wanted to provide a one-stop solution for savings and investments,” Dusaidi said.
The App is compatible with Telecom companies services like MTN Mobile Money, TIGO Cash as well as traditional bank accounts for those with credit and debit cards.
Changing a mindset
Changing the way people connect with Financial Inclusion programs is one way the tech community can be involved in changing the saving and investment culture of Rwandans.
Clement Muhirwa, the C.T.O at UPlus said their App stands out from other FinTech applications because they offer interest for every saving on the platform which is lacking on other similar platforms.
“Unlike other competitors we offer other services on top of their savings. On our platform you can fundraise for various events such as weddings from within Rwanda and from the diaspora in one currency (Rwandan Franc),” Muhirwa said.
“So many Rwandans tend to think that a phone is simply a liability, but we are turning it into an asset that generates money whenever they use the UPlus App. The interest is an incentive." ~ Clement Muhirwa.
People who use the UPlus app, benefit from using the App’s feature that allows people to invest, receive contribution money instantly on their phones.
Muhirwa explained that people can also get out of debt when they use UPlus and benefit from the interest.
“So many Rwandans tend to think that a phone is simply a liability, but we are turning it into an asset, that generates money whenever they use the UPlus App. The interest is an incentive,” Muhirwa explained.
And because the duo were changing the traditional ways off savings, Muhirwa said that introducing a new concept on the market was a challenge.
“We had an authentic FinTech and we needed to plug it into banks, TeleCos. and by the time we got into licensing it as a start-up, people had no reason to believe in us because there is no evidence of previous transactions as it was a completely new concept,” Muhirwa said.
However, they learned quick and found out that it was much faster to work with integrators. These are companies on the market who integrate or connect your software application into the electronic payment systems of MTN, TIGO, Airtel or Banks. However, this comes at an additional cost for start-ups but it is for their convenience.
The UPlus app is free and can be downloaded from Google Play and the company’s website (http://uplus.rw)
The #DataHacks4Fi competition was organised in Kigali by Insight2Impact (i2i) in partnership with Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) and the Rwanda ICT Chamber as support toward various Fintechs, Financial Service Providers and Academia.
Cover Photo: Business and Finance