Sudanese billionaire, philanthropist and Africa’s mobile phone pioneer is a…
Payputt is an instant, transparent and convenient way for Ghanaian individuals, groups and organisations to raise funds for causes that are close to their heart, whether it be social or economic.
It is a purely donation-based platform allowing donors from any part of the world to support local causes while giving Ghanaians the power to donate offline using local payment systems like mobile money and ATM cards.
It is literally West Africa’s version of GoFundMe, but better for the continent – as it comes with USSD technology. A testament to what can happen when you build tech solutions for Africans with Africa in mind.
We sat down for a chat with Kamil Nabong, Chief Generalist and Co-Founder at Payputt.
How did Payputt come about?
The idea came to me when a fire torched a greater part of the MEST hostel last year. There was a GoFundMe campaign that was being run to help people recoup possessions that they had lost in the fire. We were fortunate in that we were working with American colleagues so we could run a GoFundMe campaign easily. The hassle was in getting the funds transferred to Ghana; we endured a lot of transfer charges and the process was long as well.
Even after we managed to create the campaign, a lot of Ghanaians wanted to donate via mobile money but they couldn’t because naturally, local payment systems were not yet integrated into GoFundMe. So I started thinking about how we needed our own platform as West Africa so that people could support each other without stressing a lot.
Can you delve deeper into what your technology can do?
The web application is our main product as of now, but we are currently building a mobile app. We have done a lot of work on it to make it very responsive, so even on mobile you can still donate quite easily.
How has Payputt been funded so far?
So far we have built the business with our own funds. This is because it’s a business that we can easily get off the ground without needing a lot of money to scale. We are also adding different donation channels that will give contributors easier ways to donate money. Those two channels will be coming up very soon. They happen to be our key differentiators as well; gamechangers really for crowdfunding in Africa.
So how do you make your money?
We charge a fee of 5% of the funds raised which is actually lower than GoFundMe (8%). Our percentage fee covers mobile transfer charges and bank account charges as well. If you are African and running a campaign with us, we are here to absorb the stress of managing a campaign internationally. Those who donate to your campaign also do not have to face any transfer charges, we have accounted for them already. Moreover, If you are running a campaign with us, once you have raised enough funds you can login into your account and issue a withdrawal. Once we receive that notification, it kick-starts a process that ensures that in 24 hours you will receive all your funds.
Do you have any competition [in Africa]?
At the moment, we do not have a direct competitor. However, people still find ways to use GoFundMe and Western platforms. Our differentiator is that people can donate using mobile money, which everyone has. They can also donate via our offline feature powered by simple SMS technology. We are local, so there are huge benefits to come from using our platform. The multiple transfer charges from using these international platforms that people face, or communicating with multiple people about how far the money is, they do not face with Payputt at all.
Which countries are you operating in?
We are currently live in Ghana with plans to expand to one West African country in early 2019 and an East African country as well. I would have loved to tell you where but, unfortunately that forms part of our product strategy.
Who else is a part of the team at PayPutt?
Well, the team is made up of Aliu Wahab, who is a childhood friend and long-time business partner of mine. After I told him about the idea he was excited, and had no second thoughts at all. Around the same time, I let Anton Hagerstrand know what I was thinking and he was really excited about it as well. Anton is a widely respected software engineer from Sweden. At the time he was working at the Meltwater Incubator and he was seeing the problem unravel right before his eyes, so he was keen to join. In two weeks we built a minimum viable product that could accept mobile money payments. Later, we were joined by Nana Prempeh Agyeman who is co-founder of Asoriba, Ghana’s largest church management system. He has been very supportive in our sales and marketing initiatives, helping to bring aboard some of our most successful campaigns to date.
Are you seeking investment?
Considering that we are now looking to expand into different countries, we are looking to scale. We believe the solution will work for other African countries, therefore we are seeking USD$100,000 in investment so that we can expand to two more countries that we have identified as clearly having huge market potential. This will also aid our product development and aid in making the user experience on the platform even better.
What’s your 10-year vision for Payputt?
To be the de-facto platform for powering ideas. If you look at the Western world and platforms such as KickStarter and IndieGogo, this is where some of the best ideas have actually been funded. In Africa we have not yet harnessed the power of crowdfunding as the West has done. I believe that we have a huge culture of community and sharing that is ingrained in our values; people care about each other over here. In the next years, Payputt will be the platform that connects people and ideas together.
Finish this sentence, In 2020 Africa will be…
…a hotbed for entrepreneurship because we have serious challenges, the youngest population and the biggest potential. In 2020, Africa will be the place to come and be an entrepreneur, be it in agriculture or fintech. Africa will be the place to be an entrepreneur.