Niladri Roy, Craft Silicon and Fintech in Kenya
Excited about the upcoming MVP Demo Day — FinTech edition? We are! We sat down with Niladri Roy, General Manager — Mobile Financial Services for Africa and Latin America at Craft Silicon and the keynote speaker for this edition. Here’s what he had to say about Craft Silicon, their role in promoting entrepreneurship in Kenya and what he’ll be talking about at the Demo Day.
I have been invited to talk about fintech. Before I introduce myself let me introduce what company I represent: Craft Silicon. It is one of the well-known organizations in the fintech sector for software innovations, payment systems, banking systems, investment managements and so on. We are pretty well known in the whole of the Africa having presence in 45 countries with the headquarters in Kenya. I actually look after the entire business for Craft Silicon, with a focus on the African market and the rest of the African market as well. That’s what Craft Silicon is. Basically what we do here is we are responsible for the fintech business; the financial inclusions and the payments side of it, how we can make payments possible and reach out to the last mile where the financial accessibility is not there. I think we have improved the system with our partners, possibly in the banking and financial side of it and with the microfinance segments. We are able to now reach out to the last mile using our software technologies.
Where does Craft Silicon get it’s software? Do they work with developers or develop their own products?
All our products are actually proprietary. We develop in house. We have over 200 people working for us. It’s good news that 95% are Kenyans so we are empowering the Kenyan citizen. However, for business needs we have some expatriates from French, Arabic and Spanish speaking [countries], because some of our softwares are multilingual. Since we are supporting the other countries as well across Africa we have some multilingual people and expatriates because they are very much conversant with the local market.
Is Craft Silicon doing it’s part to develop entrepreneurship in Kenya?
[Craft Silicon is] actually part of a lot of investor and angel groups across Africa and abroad. We have been running our foundation called Craft Silicon Foundation where we educate the local children who are deprived of any formal education, IT education, especially the slum children. We have a bus. We take the bus every morning and go to the slums. The bus is fully equipped with technological equipment especially computers, satellites…It’s like an e-school. We take the bus every morning to the slums. We’ve covered all the slums in Kenya. We have instructors inside and we educate the children. We try to bring them up to the mainstream and try to actually even help them access finance so that they can raise their business. When they finish their preliminary level exams we call them here for a further level of education free of charge, and try to build them up. Also we they to help them to build up their own businesses.
Asked what he’ll be talking about in his keynote:
I’m supposed to talk about fntech, the innovations and what are the new technologies that are coming up. My focus will be on the innovations side of it. I will also focus on the financial inclusion and the mobile inclusion in the financial system.
Some people feel the fintech space in Kenya is saturated. This is what Mr. Roy had to say about that.
There is a huge room to cover in the whole of Africa, of course starting with Kenya. Kenya is a hotbed of opportunity. Barrack Obama himself said it is a hotbed of opportunity and so I’m thinking in the same line that POTUS is thinking. There is a huge opportunity in the fintech space. It’s not Mpesa only. When people think about mobile money or the financial inclusion it’s only Mpesa. I think it’s a myth. It’s not true at all. Yes, Mpesa is an innovator, a torch bearer, but there’s so much happening in terms of technological growth in terms of financial inclusion, accessibility, people are more aware on how to use mobile phones to access financial systems. I think there’s huge growth we are waiting for.
If you’d like to know more about what’s happening in fintech in Kenya and Africa at large, are a developer or interested in this space, come to iBiz Africa at Strathmore University Saturday 5th September from 2pm-5pm to learn more and engage with Mr. Roy one-on-one. Sign up here