Coronavirus and global lockdowns hit hard. As a leading remittances company, we knew our hardworking migrant customers would be especially hard-hit and we were determined to do everything we could to live up to our motto of being ‘more than money transfers’.
Well-known for the types of innovation and creativity that have put us at the cutting-edge of technology-driven financial products and services in the remittances sector – we were not going to let our customers down.
More than money transfers
The year in review is essentially a story about what we can overcome and accomplish when we pull together as an organisation to give our customers advanced financial products that enable them to benefit their families and communities back home.
If ever there was a year to focus on the ‘why’ behind all we do, this was it! So whether our customers were sending money for school fees, hospital bills, rent or groceries; we applied all our passion to helping each story end well. In the process we managed to grow and expand in unprecedented ways.
We’d love to share with you the 8 lessons we believe contributed to our success in 2020.
Remain agile to ensure customer satisfaction is top priority
In March 2020, consultants in the busy Mukuru Contact Centre needed to be as flexible as yoga masters.
Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, Mukuru was determined to keep our staff as safe as we possibly could. When most of our consultants began to work from home, the transition was pulled off with as little disruption as possible and customers were largely unaware of the shift in operations. Calls were taken and queries handled with Contact Centre teams managing to shave four seconds off their average response time from March to April!
Our consultants have continued to be the heart of World Class Service delivery to our customers while making a difference in their lives wherever they are and in every circumstance.
Increase the digital offering in the Covid-19 crisis
As Africa’s leading remittances and money transfer provider determined to go the extra mile for our customers, Mukuru saw an impressive growth in 2020 compared to 2019 – despite the economic shock of the global coronavirus pandemic.
This was thanks largely to demand for electronic products and services, and Mukuru’s ability to respond with the launch of a remote self-sign up and onboarding initiative, that attracted more than 20 000 new customers in less than 60 days.
Mukuru CEO, Andy Jury, says, “Operating and ‘growing up’ as a company in Africa, you quickly learn that you can never draw a straight line when projecting and planning things. So, Mukuru has built into its operational DNA a unique ability to adapt and innovate under pressure (often with few resources). As a result, the lockdown has turned out to be one of our most productive periods, with tangible outcomes and achievements that have placed us in a position to enhance and improve the daily lives of our customers around the world.”
In our 16 year history, we have now served more than 2 million customers and carried out more than 30 million transactions. We are so incredibly proud of our staff for making every call and query count – which we believe has led to our exceptionally loyal customer base.
Expand the international money transfers footprint
In 2020, Mukuru continued its quiet revolution across the African continent – to deliver world class service to people who have never had access to mainstream financial services. This included the purchases of over 600 Zoona booths in Malawi which significantly broadened the company’s rural reach. We mean it when we say we will do everything we can to meet our customers wherever they happen to be.
We now have more than 800 Mukuru Orange Booths getting on with the business of spreading financial freedom and inclusivity across the African continent by enabling the families of migrant workers to receive cash when and where they need it most. Our network of Mukuru Orange Booths is one of the most effective ways to deliver access to financial solutions, and reduce travel time and expense for our customers.
Keep growing partnerships
The year saw Mukuru expand into China and grow its global money transfers footprint to 60 partnerships enabling us to operate in more than 20 countries. We won’t stop there of course. Plans for 2021 include further expansion and an increase of our ability to accommodate the intra-Africa flow of remittances.
In October, Mukuru and WorldRemit further expanded remittance services into Southern Africa. Having initially launched the partnership in Zimbabwe, the two companies expanded their collaboration for cash remittances into Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Botswana. As a result, customers now benefit from guaranteed cash at all times, and there are no cash-out charges to recipients on cash collections.
Since the launch of the partnership in June 2020, WorldRemit customers in over 50 countries – including the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe – have been able to send money to their loved ones in need of financial resources as the coronavirus pandemic draws out, using Mukuru infrastructure in these countries.
Partner with Humanitarian Organisations
Mukuru’s strength in the remittance and cross-border payments space led to the launch of a new product line – Enterprise Payments.
In 2020, a number of United Nations (UN) agencies and organisations including Finmark Trust and Action Contre La Faim began to work with Mukuru – using our reach and capabilities to deliver a seamless process that guarantees on-time payments for some of the world’s most vulnerable recipients of humanitarian aid. The common thread of supporting the financial wellbeing of some of the world’s most vulnerable people, created a natural synergy between the money transfers company and partner humanitarian aid organisations.
Launch new innovative products
In June 2020, the company launched Mukuru Groceries to support Zimbabwean families. The service gave foreign national workers living in South Africa, the ability to provide for their families back home with basic staples. Customers could easily place orders using USSD and WhatsApp, for a package of groceries.
Mukuru CEO, Andy Jury, says, “We listened carefully to what our customers were asking for, then we innovated and added to our service offering to make sure that Zimbabwean families received the resources and support that they so desperately needed. Leveraging our strong partnerships and network in the region, along with our extensive infrastructure, we are able to introduce and quickly implement new services such as Mukuru Groceries. We plan to provide these types of innovations to other African markets in the near future.”
Seek out and retain best talent
Mukuru prides itself on being a fun, dynamic and challenging work environment for our employees so it’s extremely gratifying that we were able to seek out the best talent and keep hiring through the year. We also stepped up efforts in 2020 to reward and retain our loyal staff.
With the safety of attendees in mind during the coronavirus crisis, we took part in UCT’s first ever Virtual Careers Fair Day in August 2020 – we had a blast talking to third and final year students about what Mukuru can offer as a future employer.
Take a bow and move on
It was pleasing to receive recognition for our innovative services during a very difficult year of challenges and surprises. Mukuru was listed as one of the leading 150 cross-border companies globally in the 2020 FXC Intelligence Incumbents vs Challengers in Cross-Border Payments.
Mukuru’s customer-centric approach also earned us an Intelligent CIO cover while stories of our various expansions and innovations were picked up by global media throughout the year.
Now that we’ve taken a bow, and with our focus fixed firmly on our customers, we’re looking forward to a year ahead in which we have no intention of resting on our laurels. Now is the time to push boundaries and press on to reach new heights for our customers.