The high potential of the application has already been recognized regionally with the developers winning the Malawi SADC Innovation Challenge which is aimed at supporting the design of innovative technological solutions that promote use and access to financial services in the region.
According to Zulu, the system they developed will accelerate financial inclusion and identity to the local village banks.
“The mobile application is a database aimed at digitizing transactions carried out in savings and investment groupings called Banki Mkhonde. It will facilitate mobile banking in in remote areas as part of promoting financial inclusion,” said Zulu, who together with his colleague Mtimuni are now working as technicians at the MUST design studio.
On her part, Mtimuni said when developing the system dubbed “Banki Mkhonde 1.0”, they were aiming to digitize local banking and investment system that is common in rural areas and townships.
We are currently working with mobile network providers as the system will use USSD platform to operate and we are currently working with the prototype. The winning of the Malawi SADC Challenge, which will see us representing Malawi at the regional finals in Tanzania later in the year, has just given us more encouragement to work harder and commercialize the system and establish a start-up company,” said Mtimuni.
Most Banki Mkhonde members lack financial literacy and as such, management of their savings has always created challenges with members being swindled by their executive members or ambushed by thieves as they share dividends.
According to the SADC Innovation Challenge organizing representative and design studio manager at the Polytechnic of the University of Malawi, Will Moyo, there were four contestants at the local level.
“A series of events create an opportunity for youth with an interest in developing solutions to financial inclusion challenges, guided by four problem statements. The challenge provides you with support from mentors and sector experts, through a series of webinars and design boot camps. Country winners will be awarded cash prizes and incubation support, as well as sponsorship to participate in the grand finale,” reads a SADC challenge brochure in part.
“Participants are tasked with developing innovations that address three key challenges that represent practical community problems, leveraging data and data analytics to design scalable solutions. Among others, the challenge aims to identify and surface early stage innovations that are relevant to financial inclusion within the four thematic areas of SMME financing i.e digital financial identity, women and savings, and access to basic services; skills development i.e through webinars, online courses and boot camps; regional data innovation i.e support data driven innovation in the region; and networking i.e collaborate and network with ecosystem role-players from across the region.”
The solutions developed by the winners of the SADC Innovation Challenge are expected to receive incubation towards further development, commercialization and operationalization.