There are more than 3 billion poor people on the Earth’s surface. This is half of the world’s population. They live on less than $2.50 a day. Furthermore, six of the eight poorest countries are in Africa. More than a third of the extreme poor live in Sub-Saharan Africa. As at December 2017, more than 60% of Africans did not have access to the internet. Almost 50% of Africans did not have a mobile phone as at December 2016. Although mobile subscriptions are almost a billion because one person can own more than one SIM card. Do not get us wrong. It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to poverty, mobile and internet penetration in Africa. But there’s still plenty of work to be done. This is where BeepTool comes in.
BeepTool is a mobile platform that provides communication and financial services. In simple terms it helps people call, text, transfer money and files. Its mission is to provide affordable communication and financial inclusion services to everyone, anywhere, anytime by connecting the unconnected base pyramid in Africa. The startup is also giving free smartphones to poor Africans at $1. The smartphone is called Humanity.
Faith History spoke with Mayowa Ihinmikaiye, Country Manager at the startup. You can listen below.
Meet Mayowa Ihinmikaiye, Co-founder at BeepTool
Mayowa Ihinmikaiye bagged a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Ilorin. He has a background in Nigeria’s banking industry. Furthermore, he worked in the banking industry as an Information Technology Professional. He then left banking to join BeepTool. Mayowa is Director for Fintech Services and Country Manager at BeepTool. His role involves providing advice to the team from a banker’s viewpoint. He also interfaces with financial institutions where necessary.
Mayowa believes the reason many fintech startups are springing up is because there’s a clear need. One of such is the sheer amount of unbanked Africans. The traditional banking infrastructure is unable to cater to them. Mayowa’s job involves mapping out ways that BeepTool can cater to this target market. John Enoh is the CEO at BeepTool.
Now, Meet BeepTool, Again
BeepTool is a community of users. It is more than a platform. These users employ the platform’s text and call feature to speak with family and friends. In other words, BeepTool is a communication platform. It allows users to make free audio and video calls. Video calls on the platform are in High Definition (HD). Users can also chat, send and share files on the platform. Additionally, users can also send text on the platform. Text messages can be sent to any Nigerian phone number. The platform’s biggest users are Africans in diaspora. Furthermore, the platform currently has more than 800,000 users from about 50 countries. BeepTool is presently about three years old.
The startup is arguably the only indigenous African VoIP platform. Users are not only limited to calling users on the platform. They can call users outside the platform. Mayowa believes their rate, for calls to Nigerian numbers, is the cheapest in the world. BeepTool users can make calls for as low as 5 Naira per second ($0.014). All they need is an internet connection and active subscription on the platform. The BeepTool mobile app is available for download in the Google Play store and iOS App store.
BeepTool: Connecting Poor Africans To The Digital Economy
BeepTool has recently signed a partnership with Sky and Space Global (UK) Limited [SAS]. SAS is a satellite company that just launched its nano satellite program. The startup has integrated its platform with SAS’ one. Therefore, this means any user with an active BeepTool subscription can make a call without any internet connection on their phones. This service is mostly suitable for Africans in rural areas with poor connectivity. Many of these people are underprivileged. With the $1 Humanity smartphone, they can access this nano satellite service.
In addition to the above, the startup has also concluded a successful integration of its mobile money transfer feature. Users can transfer money to other BeepTool users. To do this, users simply need to load their wallets on the platform. Users can also make bill payments on the platform. These include school fees, power bills, toll fees etc. A user can also transfer money to a Nigerian bank account. Again, this feature caters to the unbanked who are mostly in rural Africa.
The startup is currently seeking funding. This is to enable it add more features to its mobile ecosystem. Its plan is to make its app relevant to the everyday living of Africans.
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