MICROFINANCE PAPER SUMMARY: “A Digital Accounting Application to Improve Access to Finance”, published by the United Nations Capital Development Fund

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Ghana-based financial technology company Ozé and Ecobank, a Togo-based commercial bank that operates in 35 countries, joined forces from 2020 to expand the use of the Ozé Business app among young entrepreneurs in rural areas of the Congo. Ghana. The Ozé mobile app is designed to help users track business data even if they do not know accounting. In addition, the resulting data can be used to support loan applications submitted by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) users.

Researching the needs of MSMEs, Ecobank and Ozé found that “digital literacy and smartphone ownership” in the West and Ashanti regions was lower than in the Greater Accra region. In addition, young entrepreneurs most often kept accounting records in notebooks, and the records were often incomplete.

Before deploying the program, Ecobank expanded its network of agents in the targeted areas and Oz̩ added several functionalities to its application: (1) the integration of digital payments; (2) the possibility of having sub-accounts for several companies; and (3) the ability to add a separate profile through which an accountant can manage the account Рespecially for those who do not have access to a smartphone. Oz̩ and Ecobank launched the initial pilot program in March 2021 in the Ashanti region and extended it to the Western region in June 2021.

In March 2020, 37,000 companies registered in Ghana were using the Ozé Business application. Of this total, 35% belonged to women and 61% belonged to young people. Since the deployment of the new program in March 2021 until June 2021, Ozé has integrated 1,910 new users.

The authors found progress to be slow. Due to low levels of digital literacy, Ozé found in-person support staff to be essential in increasing adoption and use of the app. Once clients used the app, however, the data collected was useful in strengthening the perceived creditworthiness of young MSME owners. Although the data was only used to approve internal Ecobank loans, the authors conclude that the model has the potential to enable digital loans from other lenders to support more MSMEs.

This is a summary of an article published by the United Nations Capital Development Fund, November 2021, 12 pages, available at
https://www.findevgateway.org/paper/2021/11/digital-bookkeeping-app-improve-access-finance-case-study-ghana

By Zachary DeLuca, Research Associate

Additional resources

Oze home page
https: //www.Ozé.guru/

Ozé Business app for iOS and Android
https: //www.Ozé.guru/#ourproduct

Ecobank home page
https://ecobank.com/

UNCDF Home Page
https://www.uncdf.org/

More MicroCapital balance sheets
https://www.microcapital.org/?s=wrap

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