Business and Economy

#BusinessNews: Microsoft partners with World Council of Credit Unions to fast-track innovation in financial services

Microsoft East Africa, through the support of its 4Afrika initiative, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) to help accelerate digital transformation within the Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisation (SACCO) sector.

SACCOs play a key role in Kenya’s economic strategy, bolstering income-generating opportunities and more recently contributing to around 5.7 percent of the country’s GDP. According to the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA), they form an important part of the deposit taking and lending market in Kenya, providing financial services to around six million households across the country.

“The AppFactory will turn young people into highly competent, in-demand ICT professionals. Local companies, including ourselves, need more of this talent, especially in an increasingly digital world,” says Tim Hobbs, Director and CEO of Mawingu Networks.

“SACCOs have an increasingly important part to play in the region’s growth and development. Microsoft is on a mission to support these organisations by helping remove some of the barriers to digital transformation within the sector. Given the urgent need for SACCOs to provide members with digital services, we feel we can add significant value to the ongoing success and sustainability of the industry,” says Amrote Abdella, Regional Director, Microsoft 4Afrika.

Microsoft 4Afrika will work with WOCCU to understand digital transformation challenges faced by the sector through the implementation of ideation workshops. WOCCU’s Technology for Innovation and Financial Inclusion Project (TIFI) will identify SACCOs and key partners like IRNet Coop Kenya to participate in these workshops, where they will collaborate with Microsoft on developing digital transformation use cases. Together Microsoft and WOCCU will then collate the findings and recommendations from the workshops and develop proof of concepts that can be tested by the SACCOs and fully deployed once they prove they meet sector demands.

Leveraging Microsoft 4Afrika programmes to close the skills gaps in target SACCOs, a training curriculum will be developed to accelerate the adoption of these digital solutions as well as empowering the SACCOs to continuously evolve as the needs of their members evolve. Microsoft will further play a key role in identifying partners that can the support the development of solutions and business strategies within the sector.

“COVID-19 has accelerated the need for SACCOs to evolve and embrace digital channels. Empowering them to embark on this journey is not only critical to their sustainability, but also the key to unlocking further growth potential within the region,” says Megan O’Donnell, WOCCU Senior Vice President of Financial Inclusion.

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