Do you need a soothsayer to tell you how important savings is in our financial life? Of course, you don’t. As humans, adopting a regular savings culture seem to be an uphill task but it is very good that some startups are trying very much to simplify this process, and so far, they have made significant progress.
Let me introduce to you CowryWise, a FinTech startup which encourages and simplify savings amongst the Nigerian people. TechMoran chats with Razaq Ahmed, who is a founder and CEO of the presently self-funded startup.
Daniel Anuoluwapelumi: Truly, the savings culture in Nigeria is a very poor one. People tend to spend more than they save. Was this what motivated the birth of CowryWise?
To many, saving is difficult. We can give a million reasons why we don’t save, ranging from low income level to high cost of living. However, saving is the starting point for a secured financial future. That is where CowryWise comes in. We have developed a platform that allows you automate your savings, build purposeful financial goals and watch those goals get achieved as you live your normal life. We are empowering people with tools that help them build a strong foundation for a planned and secured financial future.
What extra steps have your startup taken to increase savings amongst Nigerians?
First, options. We are providing Nigerians with options to save in simple and flexible manner.
Second, convenience. We are making saving convenient. We are making it a lifestyle.
Lastly, rewarding experience. We are making saving rewarding and making decent returns available to everyone no matter your income level.
How well has your startup grown since January 2017 when you launched? Do you think you have made a very large impact on our saving habit?
Though we started building CowryWise last year, we officially launched to the public in July 2017 when we finalized all our regulatory requirements. Before then, we had selected users who used the platform for us to establish product market fit. Yes, CowryWise is still young but we are always excited seeing people save towards achieving their life goals. The most exciting to me are some of our users who save towards the education of their unborn children. You can’t but get moved emotionally seeing such goals.
Funding is very important in a startup. Do tell us about your funding experience — bootstrap or investments.
Every startup has its peculiarities. So far, we have bootstrapped our growth. We however have investments in the pipeline.
Does Cowrywise charge a certain percentage on people’s savings? What is your business model?
No, CowryWise does not charge a percentage on people’s savings. We do away with anything charge, fees or penalty that people are worried about when accessing financial services. At the moment, CowryWise is a play on spread. We carry out financial intermediation and pass the bulk of the returns to savers. We provide the platform that enables users make purposeful, goal-oriented savings. With a cost-effective business structure, we can pass more values to users while they retain the freedom and flexibility they need to manage their personal finances. We retain a spread from the return generated.
What impact has your team had on the entire growth of the startup?
The right team is important. The team with the right combination of domain expertise in the core problem being solved has a better chance of achieving product market fit easier and scale faster. So far, that right combination has helped CowryWise on both fronts.
I think Startups solving local problems need to start considering expansion very much. Ogavenue just followed this part. Do you have plans to do same?
Well, startups are different. Each startup has its target market. However, it is important to think scale and explore possibilities of deploying a workable solution across similar markets. We will go Pan-Africa but our immediate market now is Nigeria.
In five years time, give us a picture of what you want CowryWise to be
5 years seem far from today. However, we know time has wings. In 5 years, CowryWise will evolve into a full-fledged, tech-enabled financial service provider making personal wealth management mainstream service. We believe everyone can save, and should save as an important foundation to building a secured financial future.
Asides Cowrywise, is there any other startup you are working on?
At the moment, no.
What is your approach to work as co-founder of CowryWise. What are the qualities you consider most important in any startup founder?
Work should be seen as a means to achieving a shared vision. Having the consciousness to link every action at work to that overall vision is an important quality startup founders should have.
Any advice to young and upcoming tech startup founders?
Be clear about your vision. Be bold to share it. Be industrious in executing it. Your vision will be clearer as you get your hands dirty.