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On January 12, 2022, Cooperative Bank of Oromia (Coop bank) and Kifiya Financial Technology (Kifiya) announced a new partnership and launched a digital lending product named Michu. 

Coop bank’s Michu is Ethiopia’s first uncollateralized digital lending product, powered by Kifiya’s Qena, AI-driven digital lending platform developed in partnership with Mastercard Foundation. 

The partnership allows Coop bank to tap into Kifiya’s digital lending technology and give Kifiya ability to leverage Cooperative Bank of Oromia distribution and financial capacity. The Bank will offer lending solutions targeting Micro, Small, and medium businesses (MSMEs), providing access to credit, through groundbreaking and cutting-edge credit scoring systems. 

Research shows that Ethiopia’s MSME Financing to GDP Ratio was 2% in 2020. This ratio is lower than South Africa’s 14% and Kenya’s 6% in 2020. Ethiopia’s poor ratio is attributed to the crowding-out of credit by the public sector and high requirements for a loan to MSMEs by Micro-Finances and Commercial Banks.   

Financial institutions place high requirements partly due to a lack of credible credit ratings. Michu’s ease of access enables users to apply for loans and receive decisions based on credit scoring logic. The loan application process from eligibility and verification to analysis, scoring, and loan disbursement gets completed within a few minutes. 

“We are excited to join hands with Kifiya as we expand our digital financial offerings and deliver support to the financing needs of micro and small businesses that are often neglected but represent a significant part of the economy.”, says Deribie Asfaw, President of Cooperative Bank of Oromia. 

“Today’s partnership with Coop bank marks an exciting era for the Ethiopian Digital Economy as Kifiya’s Qena technology heralds uncollateralized digital lending in the country. With the help of our AI-powered credit scoring digital lending platform, we hope to address the needs of uncollateralized finance in MSMEs sector in Ethiopia”, says Munir Duri, CEO of Kifiya Financial Technologies PLC. 

Michu has offerings, both loans in the form of loans and overdraft facilities, for Micro, Small, and Medium Businesses. The Microloans are aimed towards working capital needs of roadside traders and micro businesses with a maximum loan amount of 30,000 ETB and a repayment period of 1-4 months. 

Whereas, the MSME loans targets traders at small and medium levels with a maximum loan amount of 150,000birr and a repayment period of up to one year. Moreover, the loans are intended to cover the working capital of the MSMEs.  Michu also has another product targeted at employees of various organs called Consumer Loan.

The non-collateral digital lending product is a new desired loan service that is innovative and makes the loan service process swift, non-collateral, easy to access at anytime and anywhere. The product uses data to determine credit worthiness as well as a flexible payment method.  Michu digital lending product is expected to increase Coop bank borrowers by 30% during the pilot period.

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