Driving financial inclusion with cloud banking at MFIs

Oradian's team at the award ceremony

Microfinance institutions (MFIs), cooperatives (coops), village savings and loan groups often operate in some of the most difficult environments: political instability, unreliable roads and infrastructure, unstable currencies and weak internet connections. The cloud poses a real possibility for MFIs and coops to grow, even in the most difficult environments.

Oradian's co-founder sitting at a desk

Onyeka Adibeli, Oradian’s Head of Implementation

Why cashless solutions for end-clients isn’t the answer (yet)

Pursuing financial inclusion at the end-client level is a tall order – it means somehow moving the millions of unbanked individuals to adopt mobile money where there is limited internet connectivity. And it means pushing billions to go cashless in economies where the majority of payments including payroll, school fees, utility bills and remittances are done using cash according to the World Bank’s financial inclusion report.

As Onyeka Adibeli, Oradian’s Head of Implementation, said, “We can implement our cloud banking software for large MFIs quickly, with little downtime. We rolled Instafin out to all 90 branches of DEC, a Northern Nigerian MFI in only a year and a half”. Oradian can work with many mobile money solutions so clients can use mobile money, but clients can also continue to use cash for their transactions if they prefer. Digitisation at the MFI-level is pushing financial inclusion forward, without making mobile money adoption a prerequisite.

Oradian employee Natalie Baatjies smiling

Natalie Baatjies, Oradian’s Managing Director of Africa

It’s at the institution level where we can make a real difference in financial inclusion – fast

Implementing new technology at the institution-level is an efficient, effective route to global financial inclusion. As Oradian’s Managing Director of Africa Natalie Baatjies said, “Despite an increase in fintech investment, fintech innovation is not reaching the majority of Africans who reside in rural areas. The African poor still rely on the same financial solutions they used 40 years ago to start and grow their businesses: MFIs, cooperatives, savings and loan groups”.

MFIs and coops are implementing Oradian’s cloud banking software, Instafin, to transform their inefficiencies into operational excellence, limited data into informed decision-making, and stagnancy into growth. They become more profitable and more importantly, can acquire new clients and serve their community better.

DEC is an example of a financial institution that used digitisation to drastically scale their operation. After a series of attacks in Northern Nigeria and an exodus of families from the region, DEC expected their business to take a hit. However, DEC made the choice to digitise and watched the opposite happen to their business. They were able to triple their client base, grow from 86 to 112 branches, and cut IT expenses by $52,000 in three years time.

Enabling operational excellence at the institution level

Natalie Baatjies and Onyeka Adibeli Cashless Africa Expo awards At the Cashless Africa Expo in Lagos in March 2017, Oradian received two awards for its creative approach to solving the challenges African MFIs face. Instafin was named the Best Microfinance Enabler Platform. This recognises Oradian for enabling MFIs in Nigeria to overcome growth challenges and to achieve operational excellence. Oradian was also awarded the Microfinance Empowerment Recognition Award. By enabling MFIs to grow, they are able to reach the unbanked in rural communities that are largely excluded from financial services.

Oradian receiving an award at African conference

The Oradian Africa team receives two awards at the Cashless Africa Expo in Lagos, Nigeria

Baatjies said, “The Microfinance Empowerment Recognition Award is the result of everything we have achieved together with our customers and end-clients to overcome infrastructure challenges in rural Nigeria. This award is thanks to institutions such as DEC, LAPO and Master’s Touch who have extended their rural networks after implementing Instafin. Mission-based MFIs like these will play an increasingly important role in addressing Africa’s SME credit gap as well as in the quest for Universal Financial Access by 2020”.

Cloud banking software Instafin accelerates MFI growth and impact

Mr Omen Bassey, Managing Director of Master’s Touch Community, said, “Expansion for us became possible with Instafin; one thing we like is that customer support is very effective and always there. The team makes you feel that Oradian is part of your growth and your progress”. Most importantly to Mr Bassey, he has been able to better serve his community and drive financial inclusion. With Oradian’s cloud banking software, Master’s Touch CDC grew from a client base of 762 to 10,456 over a period of four years. He explains Master’s Touch CDC’s transformation since implementing Instafin in this brief interview with Natalie Baatjies.