Inside Uganda’s emerging fintech ecosystem
A few weeks ago, Kanyanda Mutesi, CEO of a small fintech company, was in a cab on his way to work. He was about to cross the border from Tanzania into the Republic. He had been thinking about doing something like his father, a software engineer who lives in Italy, had done: he wanted to run a small business in Africa’s wealthiest nation but had no idea how to get there.
Mutesi was traveling by taxi from Dar es Salaam, where he had been spending the holidays with his family – including an older sister, who works as a computer engineer – back to the capital, Kampala. During the ride, Mutesi, who spent most of his time on the phone, began to think about what he could do with the millions of dollars they were giving him every month, the life-altering money they were giving him and his sister, as well as what he could do with his own money. He turned to his taxi driver and said: “What if I just did what my father did?”
Mutesi’s father started out with a small electronics shop in his native Italy. It grew to be a small electronics chain that eventually grew to be the largest in the country, with around 200 branches in Italy, the United Kingdom and France. Mutesi wanted to make what he was doing his own. He did not have the experience of a company CEO, and he was worried that he would not be able to turn this idea into a business. But he knew it would be a good start for him.
The idea grew into Mutesi Ventures, a fintech company that is a leader in its field. Its mission: “To be a first-in-class fintech company in Uganda,” the company says on its website. The idea is to provide digital, mobile and financial services all through one company.
Mutesi now has six employees and has raised more than a million dollars. Its technology, the company says, has already been adopted by nearly 100 local fintechs.
“We are trying to make the whole process of getting a loan easier,” Mutesi says. “If you are going to be in the