May 18, 2023
Francis Njoroge is a spice vendor in bustling Githurai Market in Kiambu, Kenya. Every day he sets out before sunrise to set up his stall where he sells customized spice blends for delicious dishes like pilau and biryani to local customers and nearby restaurants.
In the past, Francis could only afford to buy small amounts of spices to stock his stall every few days. This kept the prices he paid high and his profit margins low. He often ran out of inventory altogether far before the market closed, limiting his sales.
“I struggled to make a profit,” says Francis, from his stall where the fragrant aroma of spices like cumin, ginger and turmeric flood the senses.
“I had more than enough customers but I was consistently buying new stock in small quantities. I knew I needed to expand my operations.”
To address this, he sought financing to buy spices in bulk, which would help better meet customer demand and boost his profits. However, obtaining the amount of credit he needed proved difficult without a formal credit history, and existing loan apps were too expensive. He needed an affordable solution.
That’s why Jia has partnered with SasaPay, a payments platform, and Zidi Capital, an affiliated savings and credit cooperative.
SasaPay is a mobile money e-wallet that allows users to seamlessly send and receive money at affordable rates. Similar to Kenya’s ubiquitous MPESA, SasaPay users can pay merchants as well as receive payments themselves. SasaPay employs a large network of local agents to expand its reach and help businesses migrate onto the platform. This agent network taps into a large number of small businesses in need of financing, like Francis. Jia has partnered with SasaPay and Zidi, utilizing SasaPay’s lending platform, dubbed Jazia, to provide these merchants with financing.
“SasaPay’s vision is to unlock opportunities for people and businesses through seamless financial solutions. Jia is helping us advance this vision through accessible credit for small businesses,” says Steve Maina, Managing Director of SasaPay. “
“We have a huge network of small businesses that need financing to grow, and it is such partnerships that break new ground in enhancing the efforts of small businesses through affordable financing. Our partnership with Jia and Zidi helps underwrite these businesses using our data. It’s a perfect partnership.”
SasaPay’s access to merchants’ payment histories on the platform provides a critical source of data for Jia and Zidi’s underwriting. For example, Francis uses SasaPay to purchase his spice inventory twice per week and to accept payment from his customers. While Francis lacks a formal credit history, this data signals to Jia Francis’ consistency and creditworthiness.
Through Jia and Zidi, Francis can now borrow up to 100k KES (USD $850), and has up to three months to repay. Fees fall between 2–5% per month, significantly cheaper than traditional digital lenders in Kenya, where monthly fees can reach up to 20%. In addition to credit, Jia and Zidi allow SasaPay to provide Francis and its other merchants with loyalty rewards for their business on the platform. These include lower rates on credit over time.
“I now purchase spice in bulk,” says Francis. “I’m able to serve more customers than I ever have thanks to Jia, and at a higher profit margin. And SasaPay makes it easy to use with Jazia. I can’t tell you how helpful this has been for growing my business.”