MTN MoMo Hackathon: Kabokisi App revolutionizing community savings

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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.

Like many members of these SACCO’s, Mariam from Iganga district says she joined a savings group to raise funds to educate her children, elevate her standard of living, and to secure money for medical emergencies or unexpected financial crises.

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 has emerged in the form of Team Alpha’s Kabokisi app; the winner of the 2023 MTN MoMo Hackathon and recipients of the $5,000 top prize.

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.

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The hackathon aims to harness the power of technology and creativity to accelerate financial inclusion and drive the digitization of payments on the continent.

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.

Comprising the determined trio of team lead – Paul Barasa Ojiambo, and members Emmanuel Modi, and Lilian Katsiime, the team’s innovation has become a beacon of light for revolutionizing community savings.

“Most of these SACCO’s 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.

Manual financial data entry is riddled with errors, and this can cause internal conflicts and casting doubt upon members’ contribution balances,”Ojiambo said.

 

He 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,” Ojiambo explained passionately.

“It caters to peer groups striving to save professionally, fostering an environment where individuals can embrace technology to enhance their financial lives,” he added.

Kabokisi’s digital arsenal promises to disrupt the norm with its fundraising and auctioning platform, multilingual interfaces including as 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.

It maintains accurate records of each member’s contributions and borrowings, thereby providing transparency and accountability within the savings group.

It 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 the SACCO 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 . Our vision is to usher in an era where individuals effortlessly navigate their financial goals, celebrating successes and collaborating for communal growth,” Ojiambo said.

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.

Speaking at the 2023 MTN MoMo hackathon prize giving ceremony Stephen Mutana, MTN MoMo’s Chief Strategy & Stakeholder Management officer said that the hackathon is transforming Uganda through the power of technology.

Mutana represented the Chief Executive Officer of MTN MoMo, Richard Yego, at the event.

He said:  “The MoMo Hackathon is not just a competition; it’s a platform for talented individuals to showcase their creativity and make a positive impact.

We believe in the transformative power of technology and the ability of innovation to drive financial inclusion. The solutions presented here reflect our commitment to making a real difference in the lives of people.”

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