Yo! Uganda

High profits in niche markets

Gerald Begumisa, Managing Director, Yo! Uganda, details his company’s journey from humble beginnings to national repute and highlights agility as one of the main drivers of success in the fintech sector.

Yo! Uganda has come a long way from being a company of four in a four-meter-by-five-meter office to being a lead player in the country’s mobile payments ecosystem. Incorporated in 2006, the fintech player first began offering low-cost international calls before setting its sights on value-added services through mobile technology such as SMS services, unstructured supplementary services data systems and interactive voice response technology. In 2010, the company brought the first multi-use mobile payment service to the country called Yo! Payments. Now, it provides services to the country’s biggest corporate players, financial services entities, small and medium-sized corporations and individuals, with new sights set on the agriculture sector. “We believe we have greatly helped extend the reach of mobile money services, which is by far the most popular digital transaction channel in Uganda,” said Gerald Begumisa, managing director of Yo! Uganda.

Making Mobile Money Work for Your Business

A key milestone in the company’s journey was being granted a payment system operator license for large funds by the central bank in November 2021. The license allows Yo! Uganda to continue as one of the select national aggregators of mobile funds and further highlights the security and reliability of its services. For Begumisa, the license is a huge step forward in terms of potential clients: “With our acquisition of the license, we see a very bright future in terms of increased trust from our existing customers and usage of the services. There are certain types of customers who would not consider taking up our services if they were not dealing with a regulated entity, which is a barrier we have faced in the past.”

Another key initiative for Yo! Uganda was the recent launch of the popular YoPay Agric platform. The new system aims to streamline payments and link stakeholders in Uganda’s agriculture sector from farmers to wholesale suppliers and financial institutions. The joint initiative was made possible through a $250,000 grant partnership between Mastercard and United States African Development Foundation. Since it took off, the agriculture-centered platform has seen a huge response from the country’s largest industry, with Yo! Uganda announcing it expected to hit 1 billion users by the end of 2022. Begumisa explained that the company had to take a unique approach in developing the offering: “The agricultural sector […] has challenges that are unique. Most of its activity takes place in rural areas, which have issues with literacy, adoption of financial services and network connectivity in some cases.”

The company is now looking to expand its horizons with sights set on entering regional markets and diversification. The company entered Zambia in 2019 and is now looking at ways to grow its market share through investment. Begumisa recognizes that the company is unique in scope and is carefully considering funding partners: “We are looking for investors who understand how we have grown and where we started from, ones who have a similar vision to expand our services throughout various African markets.” Yo! Uganda has also set its sights on untapped segments such as retail payments and the transportation sector as it moves towards its next phase of transformation.