M-Changa: Enhancing Crowdfunding Experience via SMS, USSD and Airtime!
Streamlining Offline Communications with Africa’s Talking
Fundraising is a service that has not only taken off globally, but has also gained traction in the African market by leveraging on the African tradition of sharing and communal support in the completion of projects. It provides opportunities to individuals and enterprises looking to raise awareness and funds for their ideas and projects.
M-Changa is an online and mobile fundraising solution that has its presence in Kenya and is soon expanding to Uganda. Serving over 650,000 users and supported 40,000 fundraisers, this platform which is tailored for the Kenyan market provides both mobile and online fundraiser management solutions. M-Changa in the Kenyan market for instance heavily relies on the ‘Harambee Spirit’ tradition which empowers the community to leverage on their connections to raise funding for projects related but is not limited to; medical emergencies, funerals, weddings, churches, businesses, education, sports, construction and disasters.
Solving for Trust and Validation with Customer Engagement
“Our platform isn’t just another payments or crowdfunding solution,” explained M-Changa’s Business Development Manager, Matt Roberts-Davies while referring to the Kenyan market which the company is actively supporting. M-Changa is a solution that’s deeply engraved in the Kenyan culture due to the Kenyan “Harambee” spirit which supports most of the country’s social cycle. “Clearly there was a need in this market, it was only natural for us to introduce our solution and create a wholesome experience for users looking to crowdfund or raise funding for their specific projects by leveraging on external factors like mobile payments and social media to nurture this product in this market.”
What this M-Changa platform does is increase the level of security and transparency by allowing people who cannot physically meet (especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic) to remotely get involved with the cause by having full first-hand access to the project’s progress. This and the automation of most of the general processes and collection of automated statements makes the process of raising money convenient for a wider group of people regardless of their geographical constraints, and thus rendering the process more efficient.
The problem M-Changa is looking to solve, just like any other technology platform, Fintech in particular, is the issue of trust. M-Changa enables trust through transparency and this is accelerated with Africa’s Talking (AT) APIs leaning more towards their robust and easy-to-use messaging solution.
Reassuring Customers with Instant Notifications
A Mobile fundraising platform is perfect for individuals without regular internet access. M-Changa was looking to offer unparalleled client service to their valuable customer base by employing technology to drive efficiency as well as to measure the success and impact of these interactions. By using Africa’s Talking’s platform, M-Changa managed to embed all their communication into an omnichannel platform which then creates conversations with their customers through SMS, USSD and Airtime and in turn gratifying their customer needs.
Though Mchanga’s text communication strategy was already in place, consumers weren’t receiving immediate and high-quality customer experience that the company prided itself with its previous hosting providers. Fast delivery of notifications is critical especially when it comes to contribution to keeping customers in the loop about significant events, especially customer transactions that would ensue in real-time. A text message delay of more than a minute can leave a customer confused as to whether their contribution was successful, pending or declined. M-Changa needed a solution which could reliably deliver the level of transparency and communication its service demanded to its consumers.
Mchanga sought the services of Africa’s Talking for high-quality delivery of its business-oriented programmable messages. Using their Bulk SMS (a mass text-based communication system) and Two-Way interactive SMS solution, which helped users garner information regarding the process of the project they were contributing to which was also inclusive of the status of the project as well as their feedback all through AT’s SMS solution.
M-Changa which supports over 650,000 contributors leveraged on Africa’s Talking Bulk SMS & Two-Way SMS (Shortcodes) where they’ve managed to send millions of SMS to their customers’ overtime. A delayed notification results in the decrease of trust or transparency which the company avoids by instantly letting users be informed as soon as they contribute to a cause/project. This echoed cross-sharing of information to users as they would widely share the message to multi-faceted platforms, accelerating the company’s effort in building a crowdfunding platform that’s mobile-first & tailored for the market-specific campaign.
SMS, however, wasn’t enough to fully engage all their customers, it is then that M-Changa then upgraded their system to incorporate more Africa’s Talking products to create a powerful and engaging solution. “Our first prototype was purely SMS, we’ve since built an online version. However, in order for us to include an offline audience, we then sought an offline communication tool which would then support all groups of people even those who weren’t connected to the internet through the integration of USSD to conduct registration and the use of USSD for the management of fundraisers. What this has done is that it has enabled us to increase our reach and build real-time experiences with people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access crowdfunding.” — Matt.
There’s still a dissevered link between developers and mobile top-up services. Africa’s Talking on that note offers an easy-to-use and straightforward solution which enables users to distribute and send virtual airtime in bulk with low minimum transactions. Developers and/or enterprises can use this service and integrate with their solution whether they’re looking to; make micropayments to a large group of people in emerging markets, use Airtime to incentivise users to take part in an activity, drive up survey response rates, run mass-market advertising campaigns or even promote content. And this was no different for M-Changa, as they were looking for a solution that would greatly come in hand in driving certain behaviours. Incentivising users in this regard would then enable philanthropic people who have done a good deed to be rewarded with something and airtime seemed like a great equaliser when it came to promoting a fundraiser even further.
Scaling with Africa’s Talking
According to Matt, Africa’s Talking has been extremely responsive to his company’s needs. “It’s all about the support we get from their team, we’ve had very fast and reliable service. We’ve been very impressed, from not having any issues with their messages not sending or failing and whenever we’d experience any issues on their platform, it would mostly be a third party interference or the issue would always immediately be solved. Africa’s Talking helped us implement this system in a very short amount of time, it was really outstanding and we’ve been with them ever since. We are very much pleased with the outcomes we’ve received by using AT.”
He also added that “the two companies have been around about the same time. When M-Changa was starting there were still big players, but we chose to work with Africa’s Talking because we saw something there. This symbiotic relationship is a testament that we continue to use their product and they continue to be a foundation of our own product.” With enhanced communication with Africa’s Talking APIs, this enables M-Changa to solely focus on their solution and leverage their technology to not only expand their customer base in this market but also their footprint across the continent and on a global scale.
“As we scale to different countries, it’s really important that we do get the mobile services set up and another benefit of using AT is the extent of their geographical reach in terms of the carriers we need. This democratisation of infrastructure is paramount to M-Changa, as building such a solution tends to be time consuming and exhaustive, proving the need to collaborate with a partner who’ll rapidly reduce such external constraints.”
He also shared the company’s expansion plans which were also in tandem with AT’s move to scale their solution. “And as we continue to expand our footprint, we’ll need a partner who is able to parallelly scale and grow with us without any constraints on both a domestic and global level. With our communication enhanced, it will enable us to leverage our technology and expand our customer base and footprint globally. It is also important to note that when Africa’s Talking grows, we will be growing right beside you. We’re rooting for you because your success is also concurrently running with scaling our solutions,”concluded, Matt.
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M-Changa: Enhancing Crowdfunding Experience via SMS, USSD and Airtime! was originally published in Africa’s Talking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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