Mukuru, after having more customers join its platform during Covid-19 lockdown when informal platforms took a knock, is now expanding its network into Zimbabwe. To expand, the company partnered with WorldRemit, the online money transfer business that provides international money transfer services in more than 50 countries.
Mukuru was founded in 2004 and is an African fintech company. It has carried about 45 million transactions to date, having nearly 2 million senders and 5 million recipients.
Andy Jury, Mukuru’s chief executive, said the partnership with WorldRemit is a fantastic example of a synergistic partnership. In his words, “We have enabled WorldRemit to offer broader, deeper pay-out networks to their customers and the transactions we assist them to pay out mean we fill ‘white space’ in our network, which in turn helps us to run more efficiently.”
While more customers joined the platform during Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa, it was not all rosy for Mukuru. According to Jury, some customer segments were exceptionally hard hit during lockdown, most likely because their (the customers) ability to earn an income was acutely affected. However, Jury said a large core of transacting customers turned out to be resilient, sending regular amounts throughout lockdowns and restrictions. “We believe this is the result of the purpose of underpinning remittance flows – the need to support families in the country of origin,” Jury said. “Customers were driven to do this, even if it meant making other personal sacrifices.”
Remittances services were declared an essential service during the lockdown restrictions in South Africa to curb Covid-19 spread. The country moved to a level three lockdown late in December last year, after breaching one million mark of confirmed Covid-19 cases. Zimbabwe on the other hand, had the whole country declared as a coronavirus hotspot as infection rates surged severely in all the country’s regions. As a result, Zimbabwe went into a hard lockdown.
Jury said Mukuru will constantly look to build its network and footprint across Africa and beyond, allowing growth in business in terms of breadth of relevant products and services it offers, and in depth of customer markets it serves.
South Africa in Focus:
Population: 59.6 million (2019)
GDP: $369.85 billion (2019)
GDP Per Capita: $6,193 (2019)