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Crowdforce: Raises $3.6m to increase access to cash for underserved communities in Nigeria

Crowdforce is a company that empowers businesses to drive mass adoption of digital, Crypto and Financial Services. The company also improves living standards and ensures a working financial service in Nigeria, especially for underserved communities.

According to the pair who created this platform, Tomi and Damilola Ayorinde, when asked about the idea behind Crowdforce, stated that it’s a Technology-Driven Agent Distribution Network that enables efficient data collection and delivery of Financial services to the mass market. The start-up, since its inception, has built a network of 20,000 Roaming agents and 800 Fixed Location Merchants, serving 330,000 Customers in the informal Sectors.

Crowdforce, serving one of the largest underserved and unbanked population in Africa, are trying to solve a problem. The problem, however, is that they initially need to learn how to attain distribution to the mass market, and one of the ways to achieve this is by helping connect people with financial services. Research shows an average of 4.8 bank branches and about 19 ATMs per 100,000 adults in Nigeria, compared to the world average of 13 bank branches and 40 ATMs. This implies that Nigerian adult has access to a bank or ATM within one kilometre of where they live.

One of the major challenges in accessing financial services, especially for the unbanked and underbanked, has opened the space to agency banking. This branchless banking model offers financial services to the very last mile via an agent. This banking mode is a relief to its clients and a thriving business for banks, larger FinTech such as Team Apt, Opay and even Crowdforce, Which has been able to generate $3.6 million pre-series A investment.

The company has promised to use part of the capital to expand its team, geographical operational Function and marketing. The main aim is also to capture and build reliable offline data and provide insight on hand to reach rural and semi-urban areas for businesses, NGOs and development organisations. After Crowdforce got its First Big break while working on TRADE MONI (A loan scheme for micro traders pioneered by the Nigerian government, the purpose was to help these traders with repayable loans to help them improve their business and eradicate poverty, the only challenge as at that time was that no database existed to bring the program into reality. So Crowdforce emerged with mobile forms, with about 20,000 strong agents performing KYC on a 45million eligible traders and getting them registered. It was realised that getting money into their hands was quite a challenge. 

Because most of them were unbanked, sending money to a bank account was unrealistic and wasn’t visible; therefore, those with bank accounts where banks were quite a distance from their location.

The company took advantage of the situation and rebranded it as what we now know as Crowdforce, which is a financial institute distributing network that can turn any merchant into a mobile bank branch. According to the CEO OLUWATOMI AYORINDE, “We thought that if we could build this successfully well, several other FinTech can later deliver their services to the mass market, and that will still be in line with our objective of making our distribution. Looking at most of the successful companies in Nigeria had to build some offline distribution.

Crowdforce, who also has its payforce despite running a mobile form product, has placed a driving seat. The Payforces serves as its second product, a POS-enabled system merchant. It also doubles as an agent to provide ATM Service, transfers and bill payments to its customers in places where banks are traditionally absent with high monetary demands. Payforce helps to manage cash Floats safely and allows them to earn extra income as agents.

“We see significant value in the product [CrowdForce] as it is solving a real problem by providing access to critical financial services in rural areas that traditional financial institutions have overlooked,” said Aruwa Capital founder and managing partner Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes in a statement.

“CrowdForce is actively deepening financial inclusion through its products and services and has unique competitive advantages through its proprietary technology and extensive agent distribution network across the country” – Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes.

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Crowdforce has also involved companies striking partnerships with large bricks and mortar businesses such as gas stations by turning them into mobile banking branches to keep services while storming their cash via the payforce digital wallet. The company also looks to distribute its POS terminals to other businesses like pharmacies and resellers. Having partnered with 19,000 Fuel Station, 20,000 resellers and 6,000 pharmacists to broaden its network, Crowdforce is said to have the largest liquidity amongst Nigerian Agent Banking Networks by leveraging more than #1.7 trillion via its partners.

The CEO also stated that CrowdForce would use the funding to distribute more point-of-sale terminals to its partners in the next 12 to 18 months to achieve its aims to bring financial services within one kilometre, or 15 minutes, of all Nigerians.

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