Junior Fellow Takeover: Raian Kaba – Working with Ensibuuko Technologies Ltd.
I'm Raian, one of EWB's 2020 Junior Fellows!
I live in Calgary, Alberta and I am entering my second year at the University of Waterloo, studying Civil Engineering. I decided to participate in EWB’s Junior Fellowship Program after learning about it from my Waterloo chapter president, and hearing about the opportunity to experience a new culture.
Working with Ensibuuko
I am currently working as a Branding Associate with Ensibuuko Technologies Limited, a fintech (financial technology) startup based in Kampala, Uganda. As a Branding Associate, my role includes creating content for Ensibuuko’s social media pages, as well as helping with the content & design aspects for their new website. Another project I am working on is helping develop Ensibuuko’s communication strategy. With the time difference between Calgary and Kampala being nine hours, a typical work day for me generally starts with early morning meetings with the team, followed by independent work on projects for the remainder of the day.
Ensibuuko’s work is focused on providing more accessible and efficient solutions to citizens and microfinance organizations. One of Ensibuuko’s products that I have learned a lot about and been most involved with over the past few months is Mobis, a software designed for Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (SACCOs). SACCOs are microfinance organizations, where individuals buy shares in the SACCO, and are able to take out loans. Members of these SACCOs have to visit a SACCO office in order to take out and pay back loans, and their data is typically stored in books. This poses two main issues. The first is that by tracking information in books, it is often difficult to obtain information efficiently, and there is often duplicate information recorded. The second is that some members have to travel long distances to get to a SACCO office, and with SACCO offices only being open Monday-Friday, it often means that an individual must take time off from work in order to make these payments.
Enter Mobis, a cloud based software to help SACCOs tackle these issues. Mobis helps with creating a database of all of the members of a SACCO and is able to track an individual’s outstanding loan balance in real time. With the integration of Mobile Money into Mobis, members in the SACCO using Mobis can deposit and withdraw money on and from their account anytime of the day, including on weekends and public holidays, entirely through their phones. Users can use a basic feature phone and do not need a smartphone to do this.
During my time at EWB, I have gained a variety of skills and been exposed to new sectors but also learned to be critical and cognisant of my own positionality coming from the West and working in organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa. I’ve learned that it is our job to make sure that we do not consider the companies we are working for as ‘in need of our help or saving’. We are learning from the people that we are interacting with much more than they are learning from us.
From my time working with both Ensibuuko and EWB, it has been inspiring to see that so many people are committed to making our world a better place. As a civil engineering student, I haven’t had any previous exposure to fintechs and the microfinance sector, so the past few months have really taught me a lot about how organizations like Ensibuuko are creating sustainable solutions to help individuals become financially independent. EWB bridges engineering with international development, and this is something I would like to continue pursuing in the future.