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MaTontine, a Fintech startup has been revolutionizing peer-to-peer savings in Senegal for more three years now. Savings has been one of the oldest practice in keeping money for future use around the world. This brought about the establishment of commercial banks and other financial houses in most parts of the world. Today, such financial institutions have innovated their services to meet up with the demands of today’s digital technology.

This is not the case with Africa where the bankable population is limited. Most of the population, especial in the rural areas, don’t have access to commercial banks. Some, especially in parts of Africa have resorted into various practices to cover-up the void filled by the non-availability of modern day financial institutions.

Matontine

Image Source: Disrupt Africa

This is the case in Senegal where women gather on a regular basis to save part of their earnings for someone to benefit as an interest-free loans. The women hope, that by the end of the saving cycle, they would get returns for their savings. This system is called ‘Tontine’ most French African countries. It is one of the oldest social group savings systems in West Africa and Africa at large. It has different appellations in different countries. It is called Natt in Senegal, Esusu in Nigeria, Njangi in Cameroon, etc.

This Rotational Credit Association, ROCSA is an age-long system in many Francophone countries in Africa, but with the disruption that technology brings to the social space, sophisticated applications and machines are threatening to replace some of Africa’s conventional traditions.

In other to blend technology into this old style system, two Nigerian entrepreneurs created a digital financial services platform called MaTontine in order to improve peer-to-peer savings in Senegal. MaTontine was founded with aims to preserve the traditional savings model that are deep-rooted among many women in Africa.

Founded in 2015 by two siblings from Nigeria, Bernie Akporiaye and Tosan Oruwariye, MaTontine, a fintech startup has helped thousands of small-scale business owners in Senegal. Its ease-of-use and accessibility have helped the platform grow at a faster rate in the country, giving it an edge over other financial solution platforms in Senegal. It is allows market women and its other user to save as low as $10 in a month to qualify for small loans at the end of the month.

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Presently, over 90 percent of MaTontine users are women. These women claim that unnecessary bureaucracy and collaterals scare them away from traditional banks. The Matontine digital platform works just like the women do in the traditional Tontine system. They gather weekly to contribute money and at the end of the month, one member of the group benefits from the collection.

After joining MaTontine, 10 people with shared interests are grouped with their own manager on the online platform and contribute $10 each month. At the end of the month, a member benefits $100 contribution, and the cycle revolves unbroken until everyone gets $100 contribution at the end of the month. After the last person benefits, a new cycle is started all over again. Members have funded their business and supported their families with the monthly contributions using this platform.

According to Bernie Akporiaye, co-founder of MaTontine, the platform was birthed to address one of Africa’s greatest challenges which is financial exclusion. Its major focus is on people who earn less than $5 per day. “The really big problem we are trying to solve though is how to lend small amounts like $100 profitably and at scale to the one billion people in Africa who are financially excluded,” he said in an interview with techinafrica.

In 2017, the start-up won the Senegalese Seedstars World Startup competition and has gone on to raise an additional grant of $800,000 since it was launched in 2015. With eyes on other emerging economies across Africa, the success recorded in Senegal has triggered expansion plans to other Francophone countries. “We consider ourselves a regional Francophone company. Our mantra is ‘Nail it in Senegal and Scale it in Francophone Africa,” Bernie said.