Kenyan fintech startup Kwara has opened regional offices in the Western, Central, Rift Valley, and Coastal regions of Kenya as part of their expansion in the country.
The company offers a digital banking platform that transforms existing credit unions and savings cooperatives (SACCOs) into modern, digital financial institutions. Currently serving almost 50 credit unions worldwide, the company is targeting an even broader scope of SACCOs.
“We continue to deepen our side-by-side collaboration with SACCOs by investing even more resources countrywide. Our commitment to providing world-class digitization and top-notch support is further reinforced. This is just the beginning.” said Cynthia Wandia, the Co-founder and CEO of Kwara.
As part of the launch, the financial technology company held regional town halls in Meru, Mombasa, Bungoma, and Eldoret, attended by hundreds of participants.
The town halls acted as a launchpad to introduce Kwara in a personalized and open setting. SACCO staff, District Cooperative Officers and SACCO members interacted with the Kwara team on the myriad of issues they experienced last year. These included COVID challenges, lack of affordable systems, and inconsistent vendor support.
First, during COVID, many SACCOs in Western, Central, and Coastal Kenya had a number of members unable to visit their SACCO branches to apply for much-needed loans.
During the event, mobile banking was discussed as a key product that would solve these challenges. With Kwara’s mobile app, loan uptake across existing clients has grown by 300%.
The SACCO representatives confirmed they want to give members control over loan application and balance enquiries on their phone. This would allow their staff to focus on membership growth and value creation through the creation of innovative financial products.
Second, the participants discussed the importance of cloud-based solutions, especially ones that are subscription-based. Many SACCOs responded positively, given that system affordability and security were mentioned as a blocker for SACCOs seeking a reliable management solution.
Several SACCOs admitted they cannot afford to acquire as well as adequately secure an on-premise management solution, but saw possibilities in the flexible pricing tier Kwara offers.
Lastly, vendor support was an issue that prevented a majority of SACCOs from fully digitizing their operations. Many had to shelve their SACCO management systems due to inconsistent or lack of technical support from their vendors, according to attendants. Kwara mentioned that their cloud-based subscription model meant a continuous improvement of the product, as well as cost-free support from the customer success team.
Within weeks of the launch, 4 SACCOs in the region signed up for the core banking platform and mobile app. Overall, the regional launch was a success, yielding praise, positive feedback, and demo requests from a variety of SACCOs across Kenya. The company aims to onboard another 20 SACCOs before the year-end and is optimistic about the prospects.