Financial Inclusion if well executed can create over 2,000 direct and indirect jobs in every state in Nigeria.
I traveled to Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom (My Senatorial district and State of origin) in December 2016 to attend my then girl friend (Now my lovely wife) elder sister’s wedding after so many years of not visiting the state. I left Akwa Ibom in 2006 after high school for Lagos just to hustle.
I needed cash in Ikot Ekpene that faithful morning. I went to UBA bank to use ATM around 6:45am and I was shocked to meet a queue of let say 30 people that want to withdraw money from ATM.
I was more surprised when I realized that the ATM was not dispensing cash but the people refused to go home which I later find out most of the people are coming from other LGA within the senatorial district and they are actually waiting for bank to open around 8am so the ATM can be loaded with cash. That was how I identified a problem.
I stayed in Ikot Ekpene for just 4 days before returning to Lagos to brainstorm on the best way to address this problem. I returned to Akwa Ibom in April 2017 to really analyst the problem and conduct proper survey to know if people would love to have pay point in their local community to take care of their banking services.
I test run a paypoint in Ikono LGA of Akwa Ibom to confirm that people really want the service (Remember, these are people in rural community) and I discovered that I can build a business around it.
In 2018, we started a business called Staracash in 3 LGA to help reduce financial excluded population in Akwa Ibom.
Staracash in 2018 has processed over 100 millions value of transaction in 3 LGA.
We are trying to solve not just financial inclusion problem but create jobs for our young people on Akwa Ibom.
In 2019, we want to expand to 10 LGA in Akwa Ibom with additional services because we want to really solve this problem. In some LGA, we have multiple Poypoint outlets and we believe this is the best model to solve this problem in Nigeria.
Mobile money and wallet system in Nigeria is not effective at this point in rural areas because they are too complex for a villager or even a school teacher to use. Outside Lagos, Abuja and port Harcourt which are major business hubs in Nigeria, majority of population in other states are traders and civil servant. Most of them have bank account but the stress and cost of transportation to where banking services are is why they are underbanked.
If we duplicate this model in all the states, the level of unemployment will reduce and our economy will grow.
We don’t necessarily need to wait for government or a politician in order to solve most of our problems in this country.
Imagine if someone is trying to solve electricity problem using some of the rivers for hydro or solar system in villages. Before you know it, that problem will be solved and unemployment will reduce.
I believe in Nigeria and I believe my generation have what it takes to solve our problems.