Ethiopia: Mastercard Foundation and Kifiya Financial Technology PLC to Enable More Than 477,800 MSMEs to Access Uncollateralized Digital Credit Products

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — The Mastercard Foundation, in partnership with Kifiya Financial Technology PLC (Kifiya), announces a scale-up program designed to unlock resources from banks, innovate new financial models and products, and transition the financial sector to enable access to uncollateralized financial credit products to a greater number of MSMEs. A budget of US $100 million is committed to the program.

The Sustainable Access to Finance to Enable Entrepreneurship (SAFEE) program incorporated learnings from Michu, a successful large-scale pilot by the Cooperative Bank of Oromia, Kifiya, and the Mastercard Foundation. This collaboration enabled more than 148,000 MSMEs to access uncollateralized working capital credit in just 14 months.

SAFEE will unlock US$300 million from six banks and enable more than 477,800 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to access relevant and appropriate uncollateralized digital credit products and will enable 425,000 young women to access mobile device financing.

The program will serve program participants of current and future Foundation programs by unlocking access to uncollateralized working and productive digital credit. The credit is in the form of nano, micro, and small working capital, inventory credit, invoice financing, equipment financing, and buy-now-pay-later products for MSMEs in urban, peri-urban, and rural areas of Ethiopia.

Over a period of five years, the program will directly drive the creation of job opportunities for 2.18 million young people (80 percent women) and support other programs to enable 3.65 million young people to access credit. The program will focus on supporting vulnerable young people who are traditionally excluded from accessing financial products, including women, persons with disabilities, refugees, and Internally Displaced People (IDPs).

The program is designed to propel supply-side system-level change while addressing demand-side challenges that have traditionally constrained MSMEs’ access to uncollateralized financial services. It does this by addressing the lack of credit history and records, availability of appropriate products and services, low use of financial technology and the cost of managing low-value credit. It also provides the technical assistance required for financial institutions to transition from conventional collateral-based lending to uncollateralized, digitally enabled, credit-score-based lending, and embracing new modality of delivery of financial services.

The program unlocks resources from banks, innovates new models/products, and ensures that the financial sector transitions to offer uncollateralized financial credit products to a greater number of MSMEs – even beyond the initial program targets.

SAFEE has initially partnered with the Cooperative Bank of Oromia, Bunna Bank, Enat Bank, Amhara Bank, Wegagen Bank, and ZamZam Bank. The facility will increase the number of bank partnerships based on learnings and needs.

According to the SME Finance Forum, the financing gap for MSMEs in Ethiopia and Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be US$4.3 billion and US$331 billion, respectively. MSMEs are major job creators in Africa, contributing to 80 percent of employment, according to McKinsey & Company. It is therefore critical to address the access to finance constraints as an underlying requirement on the pathway for creating and sustaining jobs on the continent.

The program replaces the need for collateral by providing alternative data-driven Artificial Intelligence (AI) credit scoring, which ensures that appropriate and relevant products are tailored to and serve the needs and demands of MSMEs. By using data-driven technology solutions, the costs of finance and management of small-value loans for the banks were reduced. The technical support ensures that banks undergo efficient change management to introduce and deliver the new model and create inclusive access to financial services for MSMEs.

The announcement of the SAFEE program was part of the month-long “Startup Ethiopia” event in April 2024, along with the announcement of a series of reforms including access to finance opportunities for start-ups.

“Our partnership with the Mastercard Foundation will enable the unlocking of uncollateralized productive credit products ranging from digital working capital, invoice financing, inventory credit, buy-now-pay-later, and interest-free banking that address the needs and demands of MSMEs. The program is catalytic by design to enable the financial sector transition through system-level change support where uncollateralized digital credit for MSMEs become the new normal,” said Munir Duri, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kifiya Financial Technology PLC.

“Through collaborative efforts and innovative and tailored programs like SAFEE, the Foundation aims to create an ecosystem where MSMEs can harness the power of digital lending to realize their full potential and ensure sustainable livelihoods for fellow young people,” said Samuel Yalew Adela, Mastercard Foundation Country Director, Ethiopia. “These MSMEs will not access financial services through traditional lending approaches otherwise. Including SAFEE, the Foundation to date has committed a total of $672 million in Ethiopia, of which $222 million is dedicated to increasing affordable access to finance through various partnerships.”

Learn more about our work in Ethiopia

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation is a registered Canadian charity and one of the largest foundations in the world. It works with visionary organizations to advance education and financial inclusion to enable young people in Africa and Indigenous youth in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. Established in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company, the Foundation is an independent organization separate from the company, with offices in Toronto, Kigali, Accra, Nairobi, Kampala, Lagos, Dakar, and Addis Ababa. Its policies, operations, and program decisions are determined by the Foundation’s Board of Directors and leadership.

About Kifiya

Kifiya Financial Technology is an industry-leading financial technology company based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, focussed on enabling access to finance and access to markets through data driven digital solutions. Founded in 2010, Kifiya simplifies complex financial services, bridging the digital divide and fostering financial and markets inclusion across Ethiopia. The company offers a diverse portfolio of services in payments, agriculture, micro-insurance, and mobility. Kifiya’s mission is to leverage AI driven data and technology for social good, creating a more inclusive and sustainable future. Recognized for our contributions to Africa’s tech landscape, Kifiya continues to drive economic empowerment and community development.

For more information, please visit www.kifiya.com

Contacts:

Kifiya Financial Technology PLC
Lilian Maingi, Communication Manager
Market Solutions Practice
Telephone: +251 996 14 97 90
Email: Lmaingi@Kifiya.com

Mastercard Foundation
Simret Yasabu, Lead, Country Communications
Telephone: +251 988 80 57 66
Email: syasabu@mastercardfdn.org