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Riby 1.5 campaign in retrospect: the journey and our accomplishments

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Only 5 years after Riby (a financial sector development organization that promotes financial inclusion in Nigeria.) stepped into the Nigerian FinTech industry, they have altered the course of history as regards the operation of formal and informal cooperatives such as ajo, esusu and Adashe. With the unquenchable zeal of a trailblazer, Riby has digitalized our local ajo and heralded financial inclusion of millions of artisans, and underbanked populace of Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya. With Riby, the entrepreneur’s dream of collateral-free loans became a reality and the financial tragedy of losing all of one’s “contribution” money to a sly member of a local cooperative is past tense.

Since gaining global recognition as top 100 fast-rising Fintech firms in the world as at 2017, Riby’s commitment to leveling up the financially unserved and underserved Nigerians, especially rural dwellers and small business owners, have not shriveled one bit. To say the least, Riby has continued to grow sporadically as evident in its multiple achievements. Top on the list is, emerging finalist of 1776 Challenge Cup, in February, 2018.

(Side note: Never heard of 1776? Well, it is a US-based company in Washington, USA, given to discovering and funding of high-growth start-ups around the world.)

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THE JOURNEY TO RIBY 1.5 PROJECT
In 2019, Riby caught the attention of EFInA (Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access) an organization funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that marked the onset of the illustrious journey tagged the RIBY 1.5 Campaign which was funded by a grant awarded by EFInA. The Riby 1.5 campaign was birthed after a successful community outreach in the Makoko area of Lagos state. At the inception of the campaign, the target was to reach 1.5 million new customers in 10 States across all the geopolitical zones, while seeing to the recruitment and training of additional 1,500 Riby agents to spread impact to more remote parts of Nigeria.

In April, 2019 the Riby 1.5 Campaign flagged off and the journey was exciting. In only 16 months, the Riby Team penetrated 5 geopolitical zones including northwest, northeast, northcentral, south-south, southeast to establish project centers in these zones. The target was primarily small business owners, cooperatives and associations from several underbanked communities. The Riby 1.5 Campaign gave them access to funds, loans, and boosted savings through its economic and financial literacy programs. Many of the benefactors testify to empowerment for wealth creation and easier financial transactions mediated by dedicated Riby agents who take the vision far beyond the reach of technology.

WHY WE EMBARKED ON THIS JOURNEY
As at 2018, 60% of the 100 million bankable Nigerians were either underbanked or completely unbanked. Many locally organized (makeshift) financial structures such as ajo had grossly become inadequate to help artisans keep up with healthy savings, access to collateral-free loans, and insurance. There was a need to introduce a system which leveraged on technology and digital tools to adequately meet the financial needs of the underserved population and conversely engender financial inclusion.
These concerns led to the birth of the RIBY 1.5 campaign, a worthwhile but uneasy journey, due to the challenges posed by the COVID 19 pandemic which halted economic activities and cast a shadow on the finances of many individuals in Nigeria and the world at large. Although COVID 19 surfaced only a few months to the end of the RIBY 1.5 Campaign, the effect of the pandemic has further re-emphasized the need to embrace mobile money and other underrated elements of FinTech.

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RIBY 1.5 CAMPAIGN: OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Months after the Riby 1.5 Campaign ended, we have not stopped receiving positive feedback. Aside from those we signed up, we now have many new customers who were referred to us by satisfied old customers. You know what they say about great products and services? It sells itself! But here is a rundown of what we were able to accomplish through the Riby 1.5 Campaign

• Over a million new customers in 15 States
We signed up a total of 788,949 customers over the 16 months duration of the project despite some challenges faced including the effect of Covid-19 pandemic during project execution. Of this total number, 416,454 customers had never been integrated into any formal banking system. The total female customers signed up was 390,747 with 215,989 being the number of female customers that were included for the first time. Although the initial target was to reach 10 States, we ended up reaching an additional 5 States, making it 15 States in total.

• A buffer for financially distressed Nigerians during COVID 19 lockdown
At the peak of COVID 19 lockdown, many Nigerians lost their jobs and countless households were financially distressed. We stood up to the challenge and created a sort of buffer for several of them. During the pandemic, we expanded access to financial services and gave a one-month moratorium on loan payments for customers. With our already established network of agents, Riby provided last-mile delivery of monetary donations and supplies to needy households.

• 2,000 new agents and a stronger agent network
The initial target was to recruit and adequately train 1,500 agents but we were able to train an additional 500 agents and went ahead to create agent centers in all our 6 project zones (North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-South, South-East and South-West to establish project centers in these zones). The agent network system has been revamped via the development and deployment of the Riby Agent App. Agents were also given access to POS to ease their transactions and increase productivity.

In the end, we can confidently say that we achieved the tripartite objectives of the Riby 1.5 Campaign. We did BUILD technology to support digital financial services to cooperatives and communities. We ENGAGED cooperatives by giving financial education, administrative training and support. And we REINFORCED, to achieve our long-term goal of reaching millions of users, by absorbing existing roaming agents into the Riby-managed Agent Network of Cooperatives to enhance financial inclusion.

Riby is a collective platform for creating prosperous communities and while we thank EFInA for funding this campaign, we are open to more collaborations, please contact us via info@riby.me or call 08092222109.

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