HAVAÍC joined forces with CrowdForce in February 2022, putting its weight behind the FinTech’s drive to empower Nigeria’s underserved and unbanked population. Here’s how the Nigerian founder duo are realising their dream to “improve people’s lives”.
The importance of creating impact
CrowdForce founders Tomi and Dami Ayorinde have a shared passion for creating something simple, stable, and sustainable that makes people’s lives better, and what better way to achieve this by supporting financial inclusion.
When the Nigerian-born cousins first partnered in 2015, it was this desire to be part of something big and make a difference that propelled them into the world of African FinTechs. For them, success is creating value for the community, environment, and the economy. And that’s why impact is a core value at CrowdForce - guiding every step of the company’s growth journey.
A business built on data
It all started with data. Accurate data empowers companies to make informed decisions, but in Africa – in the absence of readily available and reliable data - decisions are too often based on estimates. Determined to build a more accurate picture of the actual situation on the ground, Tomi and Dami lay the groundwork for a data collection network and analytics platform called MobileForms.
A few years in, the startup was selected to help the government distribute and recover financial aid for millions of struggling Nigerians. The game-changing speed at which the founders were able to present the data for over 6.5 million people not only far exceeded the state’s expectations but also clinched the contract. Out of the 14 early-stage companies that were considered, MobileForms was the only one with the capabilities to execute the brief.
Not ones to rest on their laurels, the cousins realised they could do more to leverage their data insights and growing network of nationwide agents to create sustainable change. In 2018, they introduced CrowdForce and the breakthrough technology that would soon give rise to Africa’s largest offline financial distribution network.
The status quo of financial exclusion
10% of Africa’s 529 million financially excluded adults live in Nigeria. The country has only 4.8 bank branches and 19 ATMs per 100,000 adults. And given the high cost of building new bank structures and expanding existing physical infrastructure, especially in rural areas, it is simply not commercially viable. Underserved Nigerians have no access to loans and no means of stepping out of poverty or stimulating economic growth in their communities and further afield. Armed with the data and facts collected by MobileForms, it was easy for Dami and Tomi to see the value in giving rural communities access to financial services. But how do you achieve financial inclusion on a continent where cash is king and banks are far and few between?
The CrowdForce way
Built on the foundations created by MobileForms, CrowdForce’s technology turns cash-heavy corner shops, gas stations, post offices, supermarkets, and other merchants within communities into mobile bank branches or ATMs.
The technology is leveraging Africa’s largest offline network to open doors for millions of Nigerians. By equipping local agents to offer withdrawals, deposits, transfers, digital financial services, and utility payments in underserved areas, CrowdForce is not only improving financial inclusion but also creating jobs, especially among women. And the process is refreshingly simple, powered by the PayForce mobile app which enables and verifies new merchants or agents in a few easy steps.
Today, CrowdForce has a 23,000-strong network of financial services providers across Nigeria. Over the past 18 months alone, the company has served 21 million people - processing over 16 million cash transactions and 11 million transfer and bill payments. In 2022, CrowdForce also provided loans to 4,000 small business owners - vital cash injections that help businesses grow.
What’s more, the tech continues to capture data in all the right places so anyone utilising the distribution network can measure and optimise decision making.
With the backing of HAVAÍC and other leading local investors in December 2021, CrowdForce has gone on to bolster its team and business towards maintaining sustainable growth. The venture capital firm is supporting Dami, Tomi, and the team to scale the business, increase the scope of services, and develop into regional markets. And given that CrowdForce’s technology serves an ever-growing, tech-savvy Nigerian population, there are no limits to the ways in which the business can scale and impact the lives of Africa’s unbanked population.