Meet Nigerian company putting trust behind low cost banking

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TechMoran held a chat with Alao Tope, founder of AMW Nigeria, a company that
allows low income and middle class Nigerians access basic financial services, such
as cash deposit and withdrawals, through it low cost kiosks. Currently, the
company serve more than 10,000 customers every month across 3 states and has a
monthly turnover north of 16 million naira, not bad for a company that started just
a year ago.

Tell us the story of WHAT BROUGHT about AMW as a company 
AMW was actually not meant to be a company. It was birth as a result of hunger.
Because then I had just finished my NYSC and having spent a lot of my savings on
my previous startup that did not work, I had to find a means to survive. Because I
made a deal with my Mum not to give me a penny after my NYSC days. So I had
to look for a means to survive. And my initial idea was to start a print shop arounda famous University campus. But after realizing how crowded the market was, I
had to think of something else. During this period, I had to visit my brother in his
University and that was where I got the idea for AMW.

You started a year ago, tell us how big the company is today?
We now have 10 outlets across 3 states, majorly in semi urban areas. And we have
16 employees on our payroll. We currently have 40% profit margin which is rare
for a company of our size. And we now have franchisees who are currently using
our systems. Because it works.

Who are your target customers?
Our customers are low income and middle class Nigerians whose aim is to
withdraw or deposit little amount, usually below N20,000, from or into their bank
account. We currently have most of our outlets in semi urban areas and we
currently serve more than 10,000 customers.

I understand that you have a franchise structure, how does it work?
Our franchise structure is a way to support our rapid growth plan as a company.
With a Total franchise plan, a franchisee can get to own an AMW outlet, run by AMW while they get a return typically every month. It cost about N300,000 to own a franchise and the return are very attractive. And I am glad to let you know that we are the only company in the space with a franchise structure and we are proud of that.

How has AMW been funded till this point? Have you had investments, or it
has always been bootstrapped?

Starting from the time I started with just N30,000, I had saved from my NYSC
days, we have since raised over N3million up to date.

Competitions are inevitable in most business spaces. Tell us how you’ve been able to deal.
Yes, we have other companies trying to do what we do, but most of them take a
different approach. But we understand at AMW is that handling money for people
requires trust and that is our competitive strength. We make sure that our
operations are transparent from day one. And our outlets are carefully located in
locations that are very close to the people we serve.

In 5 years time, tell us how big you envisage AMW.
In 5 years time, we see AMW being in every local government in the country. Our
goal is to take banking to the doorstep of the under banked and the unbanked
population.

What has kept you going from the very beginning up till this point?
I will say is the drive to create a company that meet people’s need and one that
people are grateful to have around.

In one sentence, what do you think summarize what you do at AMW?
We put trust behind low cost banking