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Nigerian fintech Aella transforms into Microfinance Bank

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Nigeria’s fintech, Aella, which provides credit and financial solutions to its clients, has announced its transformation to a full-fledged micro finance bank with its official name changed to “Aella Microfinance Bank”.

According to its founder and CEO, Akin Jones, the transformation is a “strategic move in line with Aella’s commitment to innovation and delivering inclusive financial services to the average Nigerian.”

Jones stated in a statement that the startup which came on board in 2015, was founded to “simplify and open up financial services to support financial inclusion in emerging markets, beginning life underwriting loans with a proprietary algorithm.”

“This transition to Aella MFB is proof of our dedication to innovation and constant reinvention. And this is more than just a name change. Our users will now have access to better banking experiences,” he said.

“The transition to becoming Aella MFB guarantees extra safety for our users’ money.

“We now have stricter measures in place to control fraudulent activities. We are very particular about earning the trust of our users and keeping their money safe is the only way we can do that.”

The Managing Director of Aella Microfinance Bank, Sosthenes Oluwaseun, who also spoke on the transition, said the “rebranding was an important decision, especially in today’s economic climate.”

Oluwaseun noted that the startup which currently boasts of over two million users in Nigeria, is backed by US venture funds such as Y Combinator, 500 Global, Zeno Ventures, and Gluwa Capital, among others.

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American risk management solutions provider Archer opens business in Egypt

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American risk management solutions provider, Archer, has announced expanding its operations to Africa with Egypt as the first point of call.

While opening the Archer Integrated Risk Management (IRM) office in New Cairo, Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat, said the company couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate location for its business than the North African country.

The opening ceremony witnessed the presence of key dignitaries including Ahmed Elzaher, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), Sarah Kahler, Senior Director of Business Operations at Archer IRM and a member of the company’s Executive Leadership Team, Matt Tinsley, Senior Director of Global Services at Archer IRM, Rasha El Kaliouby, Director and General Manager at Archer IRM in Egypt, alongside officials from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Archer in the United States (US), and various markets.

The Minister said the inauguration of the Archer IRM office at Cairo Festival City Business Park aligns with the company’s expansion strategy to bolster its presence in the Egyptian market.

Archer had last year, earmarked Cairo as the location for Archer’s first office in the Middle East.

The company said it aims to expand its operations from its Egyptian base into other countries in the continent and currently, the office boasts a team of over 140 talented employees specializing in engineering, research and development (R&D), technical support, sales, pre-sales, marketing, and customer services in more than nine languages, among other professional services.

In his remarks, the Egyptian ICT Minister emphasized that the efficiency and ability of Egyptian youth to harness technology contributed to making the ICT sector the fastest-growing state sector nationwide for five years in a row and an attractive destination for investments by ICT multinationals.

He underlined that Archer IRM office opening and planning to expand its operations in Egypt come as part of the efforts to develop Egypt’s capabilities in the outsourcing industry and attract multinationals to establish their outsourcing centers, run by Egyptian youth specializing in various ICT disciplines.

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How Nigerian online connection hub Workjeje helps with access to quality service providers

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A Nigerian online connection hub, Workjeje, has revealed how it is connecting individuals and corporate bodies to quality service providers in their vicinity, while catering to urban dwellers that prioritise quality and convenience in the services they seek.

The startup which was founded in 2021 by the trio of Fortune Nwankwo, Collins Onyebuchi and Ejike Anthony, who were students at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, has evolved into one of the most sought after hub in major cities in the country.

According to Nwankwo, Workjeje, unlike other competitors in the Nigerian market, focuses on quantity of artisans with a strong focus on quality.

“It was really hard to get service providers, let alone reliable ones. They were so unserious, they’d tell you they would come in the afternoon and show up four days later, and worst of all might deliver mediocre services,” Nwankwo said in an interview.

“Collins called me one day into his house to share his proposed solution to me, so I called my friend Wisdom – who is a programmer – to build it, and that was how Workjeje started.

“We had customers asking if the artisans were pre-vetted, which of course is a pain point for them, especially for women who would love to feel safe when a stranger is in their home.

“We pre-vet our artisans by onboarding them ourselves, and still monitor their contracts and ratings to maintain optimum quality.

“Customer feedback has been really important to us. At the test phase, some customers believed our vetting process was not very thorough, and some artisans did not look the part.

“We listened, we churned a lot of unserious artisans, we made sure we vetted the artisans ourselves, and we prioritised service companies because they have more to lose,” he added.

Workjeje is currently operating in Abuja and Enugu as test markets, and is taking its growth plan seriously and slowly, he stated.

“We were funded twice by friends – first at the building stage and the second at the marketing phase.

“Getting 10 successful transactions was a major booster for us even though we were still in the testing phase. It showed us people actually were ready to pay for the convenience we provide. Right now we have processed over 70 transactions.”

Recently, Workjeje completed a new feature that its artisans had been asking for – an escrow service, primarily designed for delivery services to protect themselves against unpaid bills.

On how the platform makes money for survival, Nwankwo said:

“The startup collects between five and 10 per cent from its artisans as fees, depending on its agreement with them, Workjeje also plans to incorporate advertisements on its platform in the near future.

“We plan on expanding to major states and cities across Nigeria, and in time Africa to limit the macro influence on our business.”

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