British author Richard Templar once said: “When you are passionate, you can be bold because you have that drive, that enthusiasm, that courage, that excitement.” Yes, boldness was what moved a young lady to run away from her father’s house to pursue her passion to be educated, and today she is an entrepreneur. Read more as she shares her story with the B&FT Inspiring Start-ups.
As a young girl, Delamazior Nyanyo, who will henceforth, be referred to as Mazior in this article, was very attached to her father. She used to help him in the farm and performed the role of today’s farm manager.
“My dad leased about 10 farms within two years. And I was his farm manager; I scared birds before school, swept and walked through rice after school. You should have seen my muscles. I have always had a strong sense of duty and of ‘hard work won’t kill you’ attitude,” she narrated.
Mazior lived with her father at Asutuare – a place well known for rice farming – after the divorce of her parents. She wrote the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) at age 12 and started her second cycle education at the Osudoku Senior High School.
All this while, she was farming and schooling, with the least worry that she will not continue her education one day. Little did she know that her father was not so much interested in advanced girl-child education, and was just happy to see young Mazior help him in the farm.
But going to the university had always been on her heart. So Mazior came up with a plan B – to run away to her mother who was also passionate about education.
“I have always loved reading. My mum taught me to read when I was 3 and I kept up with it. I would be walking through the rice with a book in my hand. I read 3 books a day. I had a passion to go to university to become a neurosurgeon or mechanical engineer. The dreams I had in no way matched my surroundings. I ran away from home at age 15 to find my mum because that would be my only chance to get to university.
And I did; but I had to restart high school, while helping with side jobs. There, I learnt tenacity, discipline and financial literacy,” she said.
Finally, she was able to go to the university – from where she holds bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Cape Coast. She also holds a certificate in Software Engineering from IPMC, and IBM Enterprise Design thinking and Blockchain certificates.
How the idea of Jidi Trust was born
While in the university, she applied to become an Andela developer – a global job placement network for software developers. She qualified to go and compete with other world-class developers in Nigeria but could not win, hence, came back to Ghana. That, however, taught her a lesson. She came back with an open mind and the understanding that her peers were global and that anything she touched should be world-class.
Later, she applied to the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) to increase her knowledge of business development and marketing. During a year of research on problems faced by MSMEs, she discovered a huge distrust for financial institutions and users’ preference for daily small deductions.
“I started thinking more about how we can help each individual develop himself and what was the sustainable path to achieving this. From previous research, the main theme was lack of access to finance. So, my initial assumption was that access to finance was the solution. So, I recruited members from my team to carry out a qualitative and quantitative research on the subject. We interviewed and observed 287 MSMEs, 5 Banks, 1 credit bureau and 2 Telcos.
From our research, we gathered that 8/10 microfinance institution (MFI) customers are not financially literate, meaning they don’t understand and effectively apply various financial skills – including personal financial management, budgeting, simple book-keeping or knowing the financial services available to them – which caused them to struggle with business expansion, lack understanding of financial products and use, have difficulty getting access to loans, incur high-interest rate charges and inability to properly track revenue, profits, and debts.
Analysing all our insights from the market research to desk research, using design thinking tools, we came up with a strategy that would bridge the gap between MSMEs and MFIs, increase financial access and financial literacy while tackling the SDG goals. And that was when the idea of Jidi Trust sprung forth and was launched in September, 2020,” she said.
JidiTrust is a financial inclusion company building financial capacity, using tailor-made local language financial literacy content and quizzes, daily book-keeping, data-driven insights, goal-oriented savings, and access to flexible micro-credit. It is a simple, yet powerful solution that is relevant and accessible to the African context.
Beyond that, JidiTrust is an informal digital business school, providing information on personal and business management education, providing tools to manage day-to-day transactions, and access to financial services.
Mazior believes financial literacy enables owner-managers of SMEs to understand and assess their own financial needs and make rational financial decisions which, in turn, leads to financial inclusion.
“Imagine the life of financially literate business owners, from the street hawker to the food vendor, to the boutique owner, to the rice farmer, to the trader/ exporter. Individuals across Africa understand financial literacy in their own languages – growing their businesses, saving responsibly, receiving access to capital, all from their mobile phones,” she said.
So far, JidiTrust has built and tested minimum viable products, a web-based application with bite-sized local language content and daily book-keeping; complemented with physical cash books for non-smartphone users.
“We have reached an audience of over 1,000 small business owners with our lessons. On-boarded 120 users to the web application and sold over 100 cashbooks. We have also partnered with BlueTown – an internet service provider, to allow users with no internet, access to our lessons for free through their local cloud.
“We also have a partnership with BlueTown and USAID for the USAID women’s digital inclusion programme to facilitate physical workshops on business management for female micro-entrepreneurs. Currently we have 7 staff members and over 20 part-time volunteers,” she noted.
The vision of JidiTrust is to become the number one digital micro-financing and credit bureau platform across Africa.
“We will be focused on creating brand awareness and generating trust among the informal business populations in Ghana, implementing and testing online and offline financial literacy lessons; introducing boo-keeping services to micro-entrepreneurs and guiding habit-forming daily recording.
We will introduce inventory management, employee delegation and data analytics; and start work on deep learning algorithms to analyse data streams and associate credit scores to allow clients access micro-loan products, and provide MFIs with customer profiles according to requirements.
“We also intend expanding services across French West Africa and Nigeria as the number-one business growth partner, business suite solution, offering financial literacy training, an accounting application for MSMEs, daily savings, access to instant flexible micro-loans, and micro-insurance products,” she stated.
JidiTrust also intends introducing other local languages aside from Fante and Twi.
A major challenge Mazior says her business is facing is inadequate funding. She said it is difficult raising funds as a start-up, but particularly as a female founder. She has realised bias exhibited towards females looking for funding for their business.
“Even though people claim they want to support women, it is really hard to get funding as a woman. Sometimes they ask, where is your co-founder? And they are hoping to see a male. It is generally difficult but as a female founder, the bias is deep,” she said.
How government can support
Speaking on how government can support start-ups, Mazior commended efforts being made to promote entrepreneurship but said government must have a holistic approach as to how it intends helping entrepreneurs.
She said government must be intentional about the entrepreneurs it wants to extend help to and also be sure of the problem it wants to solve. By doing so, she said it can efficiently direct training and resources to the right recipients.
Economic empowerment for women
Mazior also added her voice to calls to increase support for women to empower them economically. But for her, support for the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) equals support for women as most of them operate there.
She was quick to add that about 97 percent of her clients were women and as someone who has worked with MSMEs, she is confident support channeled into that sector is directly for women as well as a contribution toward the country’s GDP.
Advice for prospective entrepreneurs
“My advice for potential entrepreneurs is, first, get the skills and build yourself up. Also cultivate and think thoroughly through your idea before you start.”
055 660 7259
Linkedin: Mazior Nyanyo