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In many countries, the promotion of an inclusive financial system is a policy priority. Access to finance is important for improving the living conditions of poor farmers, urban small enterprises and other vulnerable groups.
South Africa is a country of contrasts where millions battle the daily challenges of persistent inequality and poverty. According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the official unemployment rate stood at 34.5% in the first quarter of 2022, representing the highest rate since the global economic crisis of 2008.
Cooperative financial institutions (CFIs) are one of the oldest organisations working on financial inclusion on the continent. For example, in Kenya, the cooperative movement is over 110 years old, whereas 'stokvels', the informal financial cooperatives, date back to the 19th century. Yet, in South Africa, CFIs are relatively new; the legislature was only introduced in 2007.
A major reason why financial cooperatives fail in South Africa, is because they do not have adequate banking systems in place. Core banking platforms are often complex, expensive, difficult to implement, and cumbersome to maintain. To continue operating and ensure scalability in the future, GIG Trust needed to replace its legacy banking system with a flexible cloud-native platform.
Early cloud adopter
GIG Trust migrated its operations to cloud in 2013 and became one of the earliest adopters of Mambu in the region. The CFI selected Mambu's composable banking platform because it offers flexibility and is easily configurable. Over the years, it has rolled out the following products:
- Interest-free loans with share-based savings as collateral,
- P2P loans structured with one or multiple P2P investments.
By building on Mambu’s cloud banking platform, GIG Trust can easily modify existing products and add new ones quickly to cater to the needs of their CFI members. The accessibility of the Mambu platform also played a key role in the selection process. The mobile penetration rate in South Africa is high, and members of the cooperative are able to use Mambu with a GPRS cell phone signal even in very remote areas.
Impact at different levels
The cooperative currently serves around 1,000 members and thanks to Mambu is able to provide modern banking services at fair rates. Both Mambu and GIG Trust have gained considerable attention by local and national authorities as well as regulators, and continue to serve as reference models as to how cooperative banking can address financial inclusion.
- Banking the underbanked
- Behavioural banking
- Fostering savings culture
- Resolving debt problems
- Becoming more energy resilient