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Opinion

How a culture of resilience creates opportunity in tough times

Mukuru, as one of Africa’s largest remittance and money transfer operators with over 2 million customers, is no stranger to working under duress. Any successful, homegrown African fintech provider is well versed in crisis management and prudent innovation – so when South Africa’s lockdown was announced – the Mukuru team was able to draw on its natural agility and quick, adaptive instincts. Similarly, so too were its customers, who are familiar with volatility and the need to adapt under pressure. 

“As a company, we were able to galvanise our resources and adapt to the new circumstances with very little lead time, while also making some very hard decisions upfront. As a decentralised business with operations across Africa and Europe, we also had to manage the changes and lockdowns in other markets,” explains Andy Jury, CEO, Mukuru. “We had to manage skyrocketing transactional volumes over the three days leading into lockdown (while also moving our teams to a remote working setup), and then naturally experienced a contraction and lull when lockdown began.” 

Yet far from putting a damper on activity, the Mukuru team used the radically different operating conditions to propel them into a period of deep focus and productivity, as they sought to find opportunities and new ways to improve the lives of customers  – many of whom were going through extraordinarily difficult times as the pandemic spread and lockdowns tightened in several African countries. 

“Operating and ‘growing up’ as a company in Africa, you quickly learn that you can never draw a straight line when you are projecting and planning things, so Mukuru has built this unique ability to adapt and innovate under pressure (often with few resources) in its operational DNA,” says Jury. “As a result, the lockdown has turned out to be one of our most productive periods, with very tangible outcomes and achievements that have placed Mukuru in a position to enhance and improve the daily lives of its customers around the world.” 

These outcomes include the launch of a remote self-sign up and onboarding initiative, in which Mukuru gained over 20 000 new customers. The company also launched Mukuru Groceries in just 90 days (in response to customers’ requests), while also announcing the Zoona Malawi deal to better serve Malawian customers. 

As the conditions on the ground changed rapidly for customers, Mukuru was able to meet the demand for ZAR cash in Zimbabwe, once again responding quickly to customers’ requests – while also enabling bulk disbursements to enable enterprise payments for businesses needing to transact. 

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Testament to its growing global presence and influence, Mukuru also announced a partnership with a leading online money transfer provider WorldRemit, thereby building the brand in new territories such as the US, Australia and Canada to name a few. 

“During an immensely difficult period, we’ve been able to really listen to what our customers want, and to leverage Mukuru’s resilience and can-do spirit to innovate and provide critical services in a short space of time,” adds Jury. “With very little investment, we’ve made this one of our most productive and dynamic periods – demonstrating that when low cost innovation and resilience is part of your operational DNA, you can truly serve your customers and give them the robust tools and resources when it matters the most.”  

Ends. 

About Mukuru 

Mukuru is an Africa-based FinTech that enables safe, affordable, reliable financial services to underserved communities. With over 30 million cross-border transactions over the last decade, we are one of Africa’s largest remittances-led FinTech’s. Our remittance service offers customers the opportunity to send money to their relatives or friends in over 20 countries across Africa and Asia.

Additionally, we offer critical customer services such as Funeral Cover, The Mukuru Money Card and payment solutions for businesses in emerging markets.

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