Financializing Rural Uganda with Dylan Terrill, Chief Business Officer of Asaak

Financial Inclusion in Africa

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Dylan Terrill, Chief Business Officer - Asaak

Asaak, a financial platform that combines the ease of mobile-interaction and extraordinary customer service to provide financial products. Asaak is funded by Silicon Valley’s biggest VC’s like 500 Start-ups, Catalyst, Resolute Ventures, and Social Capital. Unlike traditional lending institutions, Asaak doesn’t use credit to determine your eligibility but uses loan history and other data points. Asaak champions financial inclusion in Africa, starting out in Kampala, Uganda. According to the World Bank, over 65% of the population does not have access to formal credit lending institutions, which makes it hard for the economy to grow. Asaak is here to provide entrepreneurs with the tools to succeed like credit and financial technology. Dylan co-founded Asaak with some friends and is now based in San Francisco, where he helps bridge opportunities with lenders and borrowers across the World.

Financial Inclusion in Africa

“Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.” - The World Bank

1/3 of the adult population do not participate in personal banking. There is definitely inequality in access to financial products. What does that really mean? Well, to stimulate any economy towards growth, there are some financial needs. How do you get capital to start a sandwich shop or a podcast without having access to extra capital? Developed nations have very high involvement in banking, even kids have bank accounts and credit cards. Credit helps in giving you access to capital you do not have. These financial institutions like banks and lending platforms are not always available in rural areas.

Dylan came to Uganda for an Engineers without Borders project. He spent time with the locals trying to understand how he can help grow the agricultural industry in Uganda by providing some capital. He saw the potential of inputting a little bit of capital that could change the prospects for growth of these entrepreneurial ventures.

In the podcast, Dylan mentions that these entrepreneurs have to travel hours sometimes to get to any institution that will consider them. It will take hours away from productivity, it is an additional cost, and they are not even guaranteed the prospective capital. This is where Asaak comes in. Asaak bridges that gap between entrepreneurs in areas without access to financial products.

Asaak offers an app that contains the whole process of loan application, transfer of money, and education!

Building The Credit Economy of Uganda

In the process of creating a bridge between the financial products and entrepreneurs, Asaak was also able to help build a credit economy. In the United States, there are credit identities that we often get associated with. Our payments get tracked by credit agencies and determine our “Credit Score”. This helps lending companies in credit decisions and terms. That protects against a possible default, where the lending company can become insolvent and siezes to offer credit in the economy. It is ultimately the power of data that can help incentivise the people who participate in it to be responsible borrowers.

Asaak is working with the government to help establish that economy and foster a data-driven approach towards responsible regulation and public-private partnership.

Check out our episode where we go into these details with Dylan!

I met Dylan when I was looking for housemates in Emeryville, a city near San Francisco. Dylan and I lived together and I spent my time trying to understand the start-up life through his experiences. He is a truly selfless human being with such a big heart. I remember when we shared a kitchen together and I asked him if I could have some of his ice cream.. and he said, “What’s mine is yours', buddy“. I felt this warmth, as if I had found a brother, rather than a housemate. Thanks for being awesome, D!