Accessible to everyone at any time from a mobile phone, digital financial services facilitate financial inclusion across the world. Thanks to its microcredit and savings solution launched in July 2020, Orange Bank Africa encourages entrepreneurs to develop their business, while boosting the local economy. Read this update with Jean-Louis Menann-Kouamé, CEO of Orange Bank Africa.
How does Orange Bank Africa’s pro offers promote banking and financial inclusion?
Jean-Louis Menann-Kouamé – Our microloans offer enables Orange Money customers to instantly receive amounts from 5,000 FCFA. We can analyse the mobile behaviour of customers including entrepreneurs, traders and artisans to assess their risk profiles and offer financial services, even if they don’t have bank accounts. In Côte d’Ivoire, before the launch of Orange Bank Africa, only 20% of the population was banked. Our offer will make it possible to inject relatively significant amounts of credit into the economy, which will ultimately directly impact the country's growth, since a country’s development is correlated with its population’s access to credit. Obviously, we intend to focus on financial education for customers who are not used to bank loans or savings. This is important for creating a sustainable business model.
How does microcredit facilitate financing for young entrepreneurs?
J.-L. M.-K. – Customers have 30 days to repay their loan (the duration may change according to the amount loaned). When they make their repayment on time, they are eligible for a new loan, and so on. This model allows entrepreneurs to gradually develop their business, by having additional financial resources, for example for increasing their stock. I went to Yamoussoukro (central Côte d’Ivoire) where I met a young mobile phone distributor. Thanks to loans from Orange Bank Africa, he was able to increase his business volume, week after week, month after month. He opened a second and then a third point of sale, at the same time creating new jobs in a short time. “Orange Bank Africa has changed my life,” he told me.
Six months after the launch of Orange Bank Africa in Côte d’Ivoire, and taking into account the global pandemic, how are things going?
J.-L. M.-K. – Like everywhere else, the crisis brought growth to a standstill. In Côte d'Ivoire, we had enjoyed an exceptional decade with an average growth rate of 8%. At the height of the crisis, restaurants, bars and hotels... to name just a few activities – had to close. This has led to an increase in the number of unemployed, some of whom have started their own businesses to earn some income. In the 2010s, we could already sense among young people, and in particular women, an abundance of ideas conducive to launching a business. For example, home delivery of meals or parcels has peaked over the past 12 months. Orange Bank Africa took part in this movement. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we had already thought about a fully digital model and this is now proving its full relevance. Technically, our solution is also a success. It responds to a credit request from a mobile in less than 10 seconds. Just seven months since launch, we have attracted 500,000 customers. Now the challenge is to ensure that the population understands the accessibility and simplicity of this banking model. Our goal is to make the Orange Bank Africa model a success, as we have achieved with Orange Money.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we had already thought about a fully digital model and this is now proving its full relevance