Cash is risky business, and in Kenya, mobile money is big.

People living in rural areas are liable to have their life savings lost if it is kept under the mattress.

Many engage in lending co-operatives whereby a community organisation acts as a bank for people who need money in an emergency.

This is, however, pretty archaic and inefficient meaning people can’t get instant access to cash when they need it quick.

Using a digital platform that connects mobile money to these rural co-operatives, Inuka Pap is making it possible for people to get access to the funds in an instant.

Waweru and I discuss what the lending landscape looks like, their social mission of providing free insurance, and the blurred lines around whether they themselves are a bank or not.

As a side note, the day after I interviewed Waweru he pitched Inuka Pap at Seedstars, a global start up competition, and won the title for Kenya! You’ll see that he has knack for storytelling.

Also, a car alarm goes off in the background right at the end, so apologies for that…

In any case, I hope you enjoy!


Here are some of the key quotes:

“The dream started many years ago”

I have always worked with ways of improving people’s lives, through churches and other organisations. Inuka Pap started properly in January 2016.

“We don’t save money in banks”

In rural Kenya, where I grew up, people do not put their money into an actual bank account. Instead there are savings co-operatives (SACCOs) which communities are a part of.

“Getting a loan took 2 days – 2 weeks”

In a moment of needing a loan, it would take time to actually get the cash you need. This is due to the logistics of issuing cash and travelling to the SACCO head office.

“Inuka Pap means…”

Rise up, instantly.

“Our platform does mobile money for lending co-operatives”

Mobile money penetration is >90%. The infrastructure works whereby even in deep rural areas, someone who is sent money can withdraw cash from a kiosk and pay for services immediately.

“We don’t deal with who gets what”

Co-operatives are in the business of knowing how much each farmer can and should receive. Inuka Pap isn’t directly involved with who gets what, it simply makes the payment of these transactions much more efficient.

“A cash environment is risky”

When people keep physical notes stored in their house for emergencies notes are liable to go missing to drunken husbands or hungry rats. It also makes it harder to get a credit history with the co-operative because all of these savings are kept centrally.

“People don’t care about Inuka Pap…”

They care about their co-operative. Once the co-operative uses Inuka Pap individuals feel comfortable accessing their money much quicker.

“Our user base is now 12,000”

In less than eight months. Many individuals are using the service through their co-operatives across the country.

“Some co-operatives have been around for hundreds of years”

For example one that is based around a coffee planting community. The running of these co-operatives has been in the family and so they are deeply set on how to run them and are very comfortable with how they live. This means they are less open to Inuka Pap, at first.

“Small co-operatives take it up quickly”

They are less set in their ways and are generally forward looking when it comes to running their co-operatives.

“We are paid 15% of what co-operatives make”

Co-operatives make money on the interest that they charge to individuals. Inuka Pap earns 15% of this amount.

“The loans are high interest”

They’re not for 12 months but instead are more like a 30 day emergency loan. Being through a co-operative, all of the money goes back to the group which has benefits.

“There are 16,000 co-operatives”

Serving 13 million people. And so we are confident that the market size is massive.

“After 5 million people we’ll move out of Kenya”

There is pent up demand not just in Kenya but also around the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. We’ll move on there afterwards.

“Talent is tough”

Attracting the right people to work at the company is difficult. Our CTO works remotely from South Africa.

“We’ve kind of made our own co-operative”

Individuals can access loans directly through our app which, because we own the money being paid back, is pretty profitable.

“Direct savers can get free medical insurance”

Using the retained revenue we are paying for users of the platform to have free medical insurance. We’re the first in Africa to do this.

“A lot of businesses fail because someone got sick”

In an emergency when a family member has to go to hospital the only way to access funds is to take capital out of the small business that someone runs.

“Are we a bank? No idea!”

We think of ourselves as a platform that helps people save and access money. The government are on our side, but we’re not sure whether to consider ourselves a bank or not.

“There’s a big opportunity to partner with telcos”

In every country the mobile providers are looking to push their mobile money platforms. If we can have close ties with these services then it can get Inuka Pap to a wide ranging audience very quickly.

“We are good to learn from others”

At Inuka Pap we are very open to feedback and are wanting to learn from others. If there are individuals or organisations who want to come to the office and show us what we can do better, we’d love to hear from you!


Social Media Links etc.

Website: www.inukapap.co.ke

Twitter:Β @inukapap

Email: info@inukapap.co.ke

Inuka Pap wins Seedstars Nairobi