FutureLink is Bridging Financial Gaps for the Unbanked

By Mark Kawalya

FutureLink, a Ugandan fintech startup, is driving financial inclusion using a community-driven marketplace. The platform empowers the unbanked and underserved by offering them access to a variety of affordable financial services. One of these is a pool of financial cooperatives that can be accessed through the startup’s platform.

FutureLink started its journey in 2005 as a software development firm, operating from a garage office with a modest capital of US$300. The company developed a web-based savings and core banking system in 2008. This was later followed by the launch of a Banking as a Service (BaaS) platform tailored for financial cooperatives in 2016. In 2022, FutureLink rolled out its financial services marketplace after acquiring the National Payment System Operator license from the Central Bank of Uganda.

Through the MSACCO app, consumers can seamlessly select a preferred financial cooperative, open accounts, deposit, withdraw, access credit, and earn dividends. This can be done without the inconvenience of physically visiting a branch. Vincent Tumwijukye, the CEO of FutureLink, explained, “An MSACCO customer can independently manage transactions through various channels such as the MSACCO app, USSD, internet banking, or multiple ATMs in the market.”

FutureLink shifted its focus after Tumwijukye and his team took part in the rigorous Stanford Seed Transformation Program facilitated by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Their primary objective for the firm is to address the issue of financial exclusion that arises from the high costs and inadequacy of current financial service providers. These have traditionally left out a large cluster of unbanked and underserved demographics.

By collaborating with financial cooperatives, FutureLink empowers consumers to influence the design, delivery, and pricing of financial services. Tumwijukye emphasized, “A financial cooperative is in a better position to design better services for its community, much better than a commercial bank headquartered in the city.”

FutureLink, which is predominantly self-funded, has also tapped into grant and debt financing. In 2018, it secured a grant of US$979,000 from the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity. In mid-2022, it also obtained a US$200,000 loan facility from Iungo Capital. Presently, the company is in the process of raising equity financing to expand operations in Uganda and Zambia, and penetrate three additional markets.

“Since relaunch, we have seen decent traction, with 127,000 digital subscribers and 170 institutions onboarded as providers of financial services,” said Tumwijukye. “We also indirectly serve an additional 570,000, who are still being served via the counter in the 312 branches of the financial cooperatives on our platform.”

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