From the day we started Numida we’ve had a laser focus on helping Ugandan entrepreneurs grow their small businesses. We believe that if they grow, we will too! It’s not a tagline but the foundation of our business and impact journeys and we believe it is what sets us apart from other fintech companies and lenders in East Africa.
It’s been incredible to watch how both our users and we have grown over the past few months. We’ve gone from having a barely functioning product to over 135 paying clients, and over 265 weekly active users of the Numida app. And we’ve disbursed over 185 convenient and fair loans to small businesses — loans that are accelerating their growth by allowing entrepreneurs to capitalize on opportunities that previously would have passed them by. Every decision we make at Numida has the entrepreneur in mind because ultimately without them we have no business.
This is why customer service is incredibly important to everything we do. We don’t have the deepest pockets, the largest team, or the best marketing campaigns in Uganda but one thing we have actively built is a culture that treats our users and clients — small business owners who have been excluded from the financial services sector — like kings and queens. We deeply believe that we can win this sector and create a huge amount of social impact at the same time by treating the entrepreneurs who use our product extremely well.
What this means in practice is that:
-Everything we build at Numida is in partnership with our users and clients. We spend countless hours with entrepreneurs making sure that Numida is easy, convenient, and appropriately designed. We take their feedback seriously!
-Our office is always open. Entrepreneurs are welcome to our office anytime. Whether they’ve got questions about our app, or loan product, or they need technical support or just want to use our internet, they’re welcome. We do small things that we believe are fundamental to building a client-first culture at Numida like offering everyone who visits us water, coffee, or tea the second they walk through the door.
-We are accessible. Our customer service lines are always open and we aim to answer all queries immediately. We are easy to reach through popular mediums like WhatsApp and Facebook.
-We talk to our users. Every week we make phone calls to dozens of Numida users to check in on them and their experience, and collect feedback on how we can improve.
What’s been fascinating about building a client-oriented company in Uganda is that I’ve realized that this is a very strange concept for our clients. Unfortunately in Uganda, there is an attitude that businesses are doing customers a favor by serving them. This is especially true in the financial services industry, where the power dynamics are in favour of financial institutions. We’ve had countless interactions with Numida users who approach us with extreme skepticism citing the fact that we’re too nice, or our product is too convenient, and that means we can’t be legitimate. Sometimes our focus on customer service has actually scared entrepreneurs away from using Numida — for these entrepreneurs, we are too good to be true because what they are used to from lenders is a terribly inconvenient, expensive, and long process that lacks transparency. Numida is the total opposite of this.
These longstanding mental models of what a finance company is requires us to be extremely effective communicators while delivering a high quality product and service consistently. It’s an exciting challenge, one we didn’t expect, but just another example of how building a fintech company in a place like Uganda is truly a feat, but also highly rewarding. We’re looking forward to continue growing with our clients!