BY TOM JACKSON
Nigerian fintech startup Toju is providing alternative credit-scoring for the unbanked, having developed a record management platform for local savings clubs, thrift collectors, microfinance institutions and cooperatives.
Conceived during a pre-incubation programme run by Accion Venture Lab in 2019, Toju was founded by Olaide Oladipupo, Byron Neji and Sodiq Tijani with the goal of bringing traditional savings clubs into the modern era and helping their members access financial services.
“In Africa, while selected people use bank branches, ATMs, and USSD, the vast majority makes use of a different kind of banking, services that have existed since even before colonial times, one that involves an agent going from door-to-door collecting cash deposits and sometimes fulfilling withdrawals at the end of the month,” Oladipupo told Disrupt Africa.
These systems, however, are inefficient, with errors occurring frequently, data retrieval difficult, and daily reconciliation taking an average of 90 minutes.
“And because all their customers withdraw at the same time each month, they would not be able to fulfil their other clients’ demand for a loan,” said Oladipupo.
Toju looks to digitise the whole process.
“We are on-boarding these agents onto our platform, which automates all their daily processes. Plus, with our machine learning, we are able to study their customers’ savings behaviour, and provide them the liquidity they need to power their business,” Oladipupo said.
The self-funded startup currently has over 120 agents on board, serving about 10,000 individuals and small businesses. Toju charges agents a monthly subscription fee, and also takes a small cut from loan returns.
“Since inception, we have disbursed loans of over US$1 million to small businesses,” said Oladipupo.
“We are currently only operating in Nigeria with our sights on other African markets with similar structures.”