Startup Review: Mamamoni Helps Rural Women Access Funding for their Small Businesses

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Mamamoni is a fintech social startup that was founded by Nkem Christiana Okocha in 2014. The startup’s story reflects Nkem’s own journey of coming from a poor background, trying to make ends meet by hawking on the streets of Lagos and then as a housemaid because she could not access funds.

Overview

Accessing funding for women-led startups is more challenging than it is for male-led startups. A Briter Bridges report showed that of the funding raised in Q1 2020, female-led startups took up only 3.2%. This is a huge drop from the equally abysmal 5.7% raised in Q1 2019.

For women in rural and poor communities, getting access to funding is even more difficult because of reasons like lack of collateral, credit-worthiness and a myriad of cultural limitations.

Having a financial structure in place which makes it possible for others to invest money in businesses of women who would otherwise not be able to access loans for their work will solve this problem for many women.

Mamamoni provides this structure through its web app which allows people to invest in low-income women by lending them money to fund their businesses.

How Mamamoni works

Mamamoni organizes training for women to learn skills that can form the bedrock of small businesses. After the training, participants can apply for instant loans from the female-focused startup to start or run their businesses in addition to the skills they have gained.

Startup Review: Mamamoni Helps Rural Women Access Funding For Small Businesses
A Mamamoni training for rural women

Some of the money that has formed the capital base for Mamamoni has come from other businesses, individuals and the government.

Through its web app, people can join the team of impact investors by donating money. The minimum receivable donation listed on the site which is N500,000 will be spread across 10 women entrepreneurs while N5,000,000 will be spread among 100 entrepreneurs.

For the people who cannot donate the pre-listed amounts, there is the option to give any amount that they are able to.

Investors can also invest money and get a 5% repayment interest off their principal amount. When women borrow from Mamamoni, they are organized into groups of tens and assigned to a group leader. The loans are paid back with the accrued interest to the team leader who then pays back to Mamamoni.

For the women who are unable to pay back their debts, the option is to work with the NAFDAC-registered soap making factory owned by Mamamoni. The women are employed in the factory so they can pay off the loan.

On the web app, however, the option to give is targeted at the COVID-19 emergency grant. The other option of investing which allows individuals to put money into Mamamoni for some percentage interest is not highlighted. TechNext reached out to the Mamamoni team to ask why this is the case or is just for specific people.

Funding

The startup is a beneficiary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and has received $5,000 in a grant from the foundation. It received N9 million from the Aso Villa Demo Day in 2016 and later got $3,000 from the Mandela Washington Foundation.

The company has taken another approach to its funding by seeking active lenders to put money into the business for a percentage return. The small percentage return however means that only individuals with low interest in short-term gains and more focus on impact investing will partner with the startup.

Partnerships like the one with the Lagos state government also enables Mamamoni to provide loans to more traders in the rural and slum areas. This kind of partnership only restricts the beneficiaries to those in specific locations, however.

Competitors

In the fintech space, there are a number of startups that provide lending services to people besides Mamamoni. Some of these include Carbon, Kiakia, OKash and Branch, however, the interest rate on loans from these startups as well as the means of determining credit-worthiness makes Mamamoni a better option for the slum and rural traders in the community.

In summary

The focus on women who have little financial empowerment puts Mamamoni in a different space. The results are more visible in the long-term than in the short-term and directly affect the quality of lives of women and children who have financially-disadvantaged backgrounds.


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