Nala mobile application, a local start-up is currently transforming the way mobile money transaction is done. By building a smartphone-based application, Nala has made financial transactions easier for users around Africa, starting with Tanzania.
Benjamin Fernandes the co – founder of Nala was a national television host for youth talk shows and sports in Tanzania before moving to the U.S for his undergraduate studies. It was during this period he got interested in Economics where he excelled and was encouraged by his professor to apply to Harvard and Stanford for his business school. He received a full – ride to the Stanford MBA programme through his school’s Africa MBA fellowship.
According to him, he spent his 2 years at Stanford learning all there is to know about fintech. It was while at Stanford he met co – founder of Nala, Sam Castle who was a PhD researching mobile payments systems in MENA and sub Saharan Africa.
Upon completing his MBA program, Fernandes received the Frances and Arjay Miller prize for social entrepreneurship along with $20,000, moved back home and began developing Nala.
The Nala app was the winner of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge that saw them walking away with $10,000 prize money going ahead of 9 other start-ups from Germany, France, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Benin, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Before winning the Ecobank Fintech Challenge, Nala got a $50,000 investment from DFS lab which is a company that invests in global fintech companies that address the needs of billions of mass market consumers thereby making these companies reach their full potentials. In January 2019, The Nala team won the Y combinator awards leaving them with $150,000 in prize money.
Over the last year, Nala spent time studying their users in order to give them an application that suits their needs; a mobile application that will helps its users keep track of their transactions which will enable them save, plan their finances better and generally become more literate financially.
Currently, Nala has over 60,000 live users in Tanzania and it generates some revenue from airtime sales and bill payments. They are hoping to expand into 2 other African countries by the end of 2019 with a possibility of going into other financial services like savings and giving out loans.
The use of mobile payments has already transformed the way financial transactions is carried out in Africa and the introduction of a simpler interface by Nala has taken that transformation one step further.