We were able to get in touch with, Chamasoft, one of the finalist of PIVOT East. Chamasoft comes from the Chama meaning Sacco in Kenya while Soft from Software. Chamsoft is a premium investment group software, which automates the book keeping activities of investment groups i.e. chamas by maintaining records of the member contributions, bank balances, expenses, projects, penalties, minutes and meetings so that chamas can concentrate on savings and investments rather than administration.
Chamasoft launched earlier on but had a public launch October 2013 and was one of the DEMO 40 finalists. The software startup is a brainchild of a Kenyan technology firm Digital Vision EA. In April Chamasoft launched a new version of its SMEs software dubbed Chamasoft Enterprise, the service will enable financial institutions to better manage the records of investment groups banking with them.
TechMoran met Digital Vision EA founder and Chief Executive Martin Njuguna, who tells us more about his company and the software.
- When was Chamasoft established and what inspired you to come up with this solution?
To tell you of this, I will have to tell you a story. The Founder and CEO of Digital Vision EA, the makers of Chamasoft belonged to a chama back in 2009 and still is a member of the same.
The group is made up of 44 members, with time they came to find out that maintaining the group records was very cumbersome and energy sapping to the treasurer and to add to that members did not know their status with regard to their financial position within the chama, as he was one of the members of the chama IT committee he was charged with the task of coming up with a solution for this thus the birth of Chamasoft.
At first the software was tailor made for the one chama but with time and research (Observing other chamas), he soon found out that this product could be offered to all chamas.
Thus this brought about the birth of Chamasoft, which was in 2012(the first version), fast forward two years (after many iterations and development) Chamasoft that you see today.
- What solutions are you offering exactly and what makes you so unique
For this I will give you a small run down of the features available to the users of the system.
Chamasoft allows one to register all members on the system where one can keep a directory of all member contacts, plus members are provided access to their chama records online.
Bank Account Management
Chamasoft allows one to record withdrawals, transfers and deposits that are performed on the chama bank accounts so as to be able to track what is happening in the bank accounts.
Chamasoft acts as an online treasurer for the chama. It does this in the following way;
It reminds members to pay for their different contributions, sends them invoices and updates their respective statements detailing how much they owe and why they owe it.
If a member defaults in paying for their contribution, Chamasoft automatically calculates the members’ penalty and updates his/her statement.
All the treasurer does is record payments and Chamasoft reconcile everything.
For chamas that do internal lending, Chamasoft provides a platform for recording these loans and its performs the following functions;
Chamasoft calculates the interest due and spreads out the installments.
It reminds the members to pay for these installments and updates the statements accordingly.
In case a member defaults the system penalizes the member according to the penalties set.
The treasurer just needs to record payments as they are made.
Chamasoft allows users to track expenses as they occur
One can track projects e.g. Expenses regarding purchase of land, and the contributions needed to carry out the project.
Chamasoft generates reports showing how the chama has been contributing and spending its money over a year and monthly.
One time penalty tracking
One can penalize members for issues such a late coming and this will be reflected on the members’ statement which the member can access online.
- Describe how Chamasoft Works
I will give an example of how a chama uses the application.
- First the chama administrator (treasurer) registers the chama on chamasoft.com,
- Once registered the administrator will then register the members who belong to the chama.(This will create accounts for them for them to login and view the chama operations)
- Then he/she will enter the bank accounts that the chama uses to hold their money.
- Once done he/she sets up the contribution that the group does e.g. KES 3000/= per month by the 10th , failure to do this a penalty of KES 500/= is accrued (what this will do is, it will automate the process of invoicing members, alerting them of their contributions due, building up their statement and penalizing them if they fail to pay for their due contributions)
- They set up their loan types if they offer loans to members.
- Then complete the group profile, with this done they have completed their set up now Chamasoft takes over the groups accounting activities.
- From this point onwards what remains for the user is just data entry, once a member pays the treasurer logins to record the payment, if the chama incurs an expense they record it. In simple terms if anything financial occurs in the chama Chamasoft records it.
- To add to that last point project management and loans management is more hands on as one has to set up each unique project and loan to suit the needs of the specific loan or project.
- Where did you get funding when establishing Chamasoft? (VC? Angel Investors?) What is your business model and revenue generation system?
Chamasoft was funded by its parent company Digital Vision EA through its services and product offerings which are documented in detail on digitalvisionea.com. We have bootstrapped so far
We are looking for investors to push the product to the next level i.e. develop the product further from user feedback and make the Chamasoft a known brand.
We charge the chamas a monthly fee depending on the chamas size. Kindly check the full pricing scheme on the following link http://chamasoft.com/pages/view/pricing
- What has been your success and what are your accomplishments so far? What is your turn over now?
We have been finalists for demo Africa 2013, we were awarded the winner in financial services innovation at Connected Kenya 2014 and we are in pivot east 2014 finals
Customers are still discovering the benefits of our product
- Finding a compatible investor
- Timely and effective implementation of user requests
- Refining the small aspects of our business model so as to get the most out of the chamas who get to know abou the system
- Fully focusing on the product development, a bit hard as we are still tinkering with other projects
- What has been the response and feedback so far?
Very positive and encouraging, personally as the product manager I would say we are solving a real problem that is out there and chamas can relate to.
- What has been the experience pitching your start up to possible investors or incubators?
Honestly, I’d say the experience has been a big learning curve in communication but all the more exciting.
- Where do you envision Chamasoft being two years from now?
A market leader and a must have for all chamas just like mobile money has become to all in Kenya