he recently rebranded Mukuru Financial Services is a regional leader in cross-border, cross-currency money movement and payments. The Shona noun “Mukuru” loosely translates to “The Elder” or “The Respectable one” which interestingly is manifesting in the company’s growth as it is fast becoming a respectable FinTech in Southern Africa and beyond. Mukuru was founded by Zimbabwean entrepreneur Rob Burrell, who is also an up-and-coming musician, with a number of entrepreneurial attempts under his belt. The company’s CEO is Andy Jury. Prior to joining Mukuru in 2017, Andy worked at Edcon as Chief Executive of their Specialty Stores Division. His experience spans in financial services, retail, transport and consulting sectors. The award-winning mobile financial services firm continues to grow in leaps and bounds. The Southern African Times caught up with the company’s PR and Communications Manager and had a great conversation in light of the company’s growth, marketing and employee relations.
Take us through a brief history of the organisation for context and the vision board as far as the next decade is concerned?
Established in 2004, Mukuru is a leading Next Gen Financial Services Platform in Southern Africa that offers affordable and reliable financial services to a customer base of over 10 million across Africa, Asia and Europe. With over 100 million transactions to date, our core was built providing international money transfers and from this base, we’ve developed a set of services to address the broader financial needs of our customers. We now operate in over 50 countries and across 300 remittance corridors.
Our plan is to reach full digitisation for our customers on their journey towards financial inclusion and we hope to make great progress on this in the next decade. A few short years ago, 70% of Mukuru’s network trade was cash-to-cash, meaning cash was sent and the user went and extracted that cash on the other side – traditional remittance, as it were. Today, that’s been turned around – only 49% of the trade on our platform is cash-to-cash, yet the total number of customers has grown in leaps and bounds.
What is the company’s position in keeping up with emerging competition and what is in the pipeline to keep pole position as the service of choice?
We are a business that puts the customer at the centre of everything we do, and for that reason, we serve clients across physical and digital channels, by various payment methods (cash, card, wallet) as well as a range of engagement platforms including WhatsApp, USSD, contact centre, App, website, agents and a branch and booth network. We plan on reducing the complexities around the use of these platforms, by listening to our customers and finding solutions to problems they may have, quickly.
The technologies that enable quick, easy and reliable financial transactions are not our only focus, we are also expanding our products and services to enable for customers. The business started with a money transfer service, but is now expanding to provides access to a broad range of convenient, safe, secure, reliable, affordable, inclusive and transformative financial solutions, including Card, Wallet, Savings, Loans, Funeral Cover and Groceries.
What is the company doing to cement it’s blueprint across the world with particular attention given to the African diaspora?
We have a strong brand in Africa, and whilst we continue to improve our tech, products and services to our customers in Africa, we want more Africans in the diaspora to have access to our services.
In order to reach those customers, we have enabled marketing campaigns to reach the broader global audience. We recently announced Mukuru will be a shirt sleeve sponsor of English Premier League side Crystal Palace for the 2022/23 season. The sleeve sponsorship will bring the Mukuru name onto the television screens of millions of Africans around the world.
We also simultaneously, struck a naming rights deal for the top Malawi Super League Team, The Mighty Wanderers FC, and a sponsorship arrangement with Zimbabwean-born Springbok legend Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira, who will be Mukuru’s official brand ambassador for 2022. Growing the business on a global scale means we can ensure even more competitive rates for both existing and new Mukuru customers.
The revolutionary Mukuru card: what is the main plan there? Are we looking at Mukuru going into the multi national Bank industry?
Mukuru is a fintech business and it’s important for fintechs to be brave enough to take baby steps. Fintechs need to make small changes and add incremental developments that trigger large secular changes over time. The Mukuru card is more about greater financial inclusion for our customers when it comes to bridging the cash and digital divide – enabling quicker, easier, more convenient digital payments and other financial services that ensures financial inclusion.
The company can now remit into countries who are part of the EU. Are we going to witness branches opened in these EU countries as well as other value added services being offered in those corridors?
Our first order of business is to ensure we provide world-classfinancial services solutions for our emerging consumers in Africa. We rely strongly on partnerships in this region. Partnerships will become even more important, and we’re certainly seeing more businesses partnering with like-minded companies to either combine a platform that has customers with particular products, or vice versa. Partnerships lean on the respective strengths of each platform or business and provide access to an array of new customers. All partnerships need to be pursued to meet real and pressing needs of customers.
In light of the prevailing xenophobic operation Dudula, what is the company’s position as far as employees who foreign nationals’ welfare is concerned?
Mukuru is committed to the markets that it operates in and is acutely aware of the socio-economic challenges in South Africa and other regions. This underpins the company’s commitment to enabling digital financial inclusion. Similarly, Mukuru is committed to South Africa and respects its institutions and laws. We look at any incidents directly impacting our employees on a case by case basis and ensure that we act in the best interests of Mukuru employees.