A startup ImaliPay has launched its platform, which leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and big data to offer tailored financial products that promote the inclusion of gig economy platforms and workers across Africa. Co-founded early this year by Tatenda Furusa and Sanmi Akinmusire, ImaliPay offers both new and existing gig workers and freelancers the ability to seamlessly save their income and receive in-kind loans through a buy now, pay later model tied to their trade.

As gig workers save money or repay loans on time, they are able to build a credit history that will in turn unlock more formal financial services in the future.

“Gig workers or freelancers are daily or weekly earners. Due to this volatility, and fragmented earnings or income, they often lack a safety net and lack tailored access to financial services. This means they are underserved or neglected by existing financial institutions. For new gig workers entering the new economy, they struggle to have a “leg up” to get into gig work,” Furusa said.

ImaliPay helps with this, and launched in partnership with e-hailing startup SafeBoda in Nigeria this year. Since then, Furusa said it has seen 30 per cent month-on-month customer growth, with 96 per cent of its registered riders saving, borrowing, or both. 

“This includes saving daily and weekly, and accessing product financing for phones, bike parts and fuel from our platform, which significantly improves productivity and earns more income over time,” he said.

Expansion is an immediate goal. ImaliPay will soon launch in Kenya in partnership with services platform Lynk, and by the end of the year will also be active in South Africa, working with another large freelancer platform. It also plans to launch in Uganda and Ghana in the first quarter of 2021.

ImaliPay, which makes money through service charges, low interest rates and withdrawal fees, was briefly concerned by the effect of COVID-19 on certain parts of the gig economy.

“However, ride-hailing and on-demand mobility have proved to be essential services for delivery of crucial consumer goods and commodities to households across Africa. Furthermore, the future of work post-COVID will involve significant remote work including outsourced jobs to online white collar freelancers,” said Furusa.

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