Nigerian female-focused fintech, Mamamoni receives €250,000 to scale agent network  

February 19, 2024
3 min read

Mamamoni, a Nigerian fintech social enterprise, has received €250,000 in funding from the Challenge For Youth Employment (CFYE).

The CFYE is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has worked with organisations such as SheLeads Africa, ReelFruit, Utiva, Stutern, and Co-Creation Hub in Nigeria, and has over 30 businesses in its Africa portfolio.

The funding, which will be provided over two years and is based on Mamamoni's ability to meet certain milestones, will be used to expand its network of female agents. VFD Microfinance Bank will assist in this process.

Mamamoni was founded in 2014 by Nkem Okocha to provide low-income women in Nigeria with the skills to become financially independent.

It initially provided them with microloans for their businesses, which it sourced from individuals and investment clubs. However, after it began struggling to keep up with the demand for loans, it started working with financial partners to provide these loans.

In 2022, it pivoted to an agency banking model and now has 500 female agents processing over ₦3 billion monthly in ten states.

"We decided to go the route of female-only because that is what we do as an organisation; we empower women. Also, we've gone into some communities where women are unable to conduct financial transactions because the agents are male and, due to cultural or religious barriers, are unable to walk up to them."

Agency banking has driven huge gains for Nigeria's financial inclusion efforts, with startups and banks signing up nearly 2 million agents nationwide.

A sticking point in this sector has been the cost of providing the PoS terminals. Many financial institutions have either heavily subsidised the cost of acquiring them or provided flexible repayment terms.

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Considering Mamamoni's target market is unlikely to afford these terminals, the fintech has provided the terminals after the payment of a caution fee. Okocha declined to disclose how much it charges but clarified that not all agents pay the fee.

Nkem Okocha is the founder and CEO of Mamamoni

"What we're very particular about is that we want to create an opportunity for these women to start earning, so for some of our early agents, we gave out these devices for free," she said.

The cost of acquiring the PoS terminals has also proven to be a huge challenge, limiting the fintech's ability to reach more women. Despite this, it continues to extend its impact to more women through the Mamamoni Foundation, which provides training for low-income women through in-person training and the SheSABI app.

The foundation also serves as an onboarding platform for its agents, who have to go through the training programs before starting their journey as mobile banking agents. For as little as ₦1,000, it provides health insurance for specific illnesses through a partnership, but insurance can only be accessed through a Mamamoni agent.

Before this funding, it had received less than $100,000 from organisations like the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Seedstars, and Okocha explains that its model is primarily a social enterprise and therefore unattractive to most investors.

"It's not fancy for investors because it requires a lot of patient capital, and the market that we serve is high-risk. Many people trust Mamamoni and Nkem Okocha, the founder, but are worried about the ability of the women we work with to repay," she explained.

More than 50,000 women have been impacted by Mamamoni's initiatives over the years, and Okocha says the fintech plans to do much more in the coming years.

It plans to expand its agent network to more than 2,000 women by the end of 2024. It has also launched Herpay, a payments app targeted at women of all social and economic classes, where it intends to provide lower transaction fees and onboard 500,000 women by the end of 2024.

Accidental writer, covering Africa's startup landscape and its heroes. Find me on Twitter @chigo_nwokoma.
Accidental writer, covering Africa's startup landscape and its heroes. Find me on Twitter @chigo_nwokoma.
Accidental writer, covering Africa's startup landscape and its heroes. Find me on Twitter @chigo_nwokoma.

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