A Conversation with Bernie Akporiaye, CEO of MaTontine

At the LHoFT, we strongly believe that financial technology is crucial to advancing financial inclusion, empowering groups that have been left behind by the traditional financial system. Whether it’s financing for rural farmers, point of sale technology for underbanked merchants, or specialised insurance products, the positive impact being driven by entrepreneurship is improving lives around the world.

Building on the success of previous experience, CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa is a unique one week program of Fintech startup development built by the LHoFT Foundation, targeting African Fintech companies, focusing on creating bridges between Africa and Europe and aligned with the sustainability goals of Luxembourg’s finance centre.

In the run up to our Financial Inclusion event we will be sharing insight from key figures in the Financial Inclusion world, beginning with Bernie Akporiaye, CEO of MaTontine:

“Be patient, persistent and plan for a tough time with regulation. Importantly, look to partner smartly with established, legacy partners in the space.” 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your company?

MaTontine was formed in 2015 by brother and sister co-founders, Bernie Akporiaye and Tosan Oruwariye.  We are Africans who have schooled and lived abroad and wanted to come back to Africa to make a difference.  While abroad all we felt that the stories that we heard in the news did not capture the entirety of what we knew about Africa.  We knew that people in Africa did amazing things with very little resources, and wanted to be part of the solution going forward.

What motivated us to start MaTontine was that we saw Africans behaving financially responsibly within savings groups and felt that they were not being rewarded for that behavior.  Hence, we created MaTontine to offer this people a range of financial services based on their financial behavior.

Meet the start-ups founders: Bernie Akporiaye from MaTontine

What were you involved in before MaTontine which led to the development of this idea?

Prior to MaTontine, Bernie led a team from Senegal that specialized in providing financial software services to international companies.  Bernie has over 20 years’ experience working internationally and Africa with a particular expertise in digitizing processes and services. He has also worked with international NGO clients serving the financially excluded.

Dr. Tosan Oruwariye, the other co-founder is a specialist in Public Health and has extensive experience working with organizations like WHO and UNICEF on preventive health care models to the rural and poor communities in Africa.  Importantly, she has particular experience in last mile delivery.


Your solution digitises a traditional and uniquely African peer to peer saving and lending system. How has this changed your customer acquisition compared to competitors?

Our customer acquisition is different from competitors because we work through established women groups to whom we offer a value proposition that enables them and their members be financially rewarded through working with us.

A community saving’s group in Senegal


What advice would you offer to other founders looking to increase Financial Inclusion in Africa?

My advice would be: be patient, persistent and plan for a tough time with regulation. Importantly, look to partner smartly with established, legacy partners in the space.


In what ways does the market in Senegal differ? What role does the culture and societal makeup play in growing your business?

Culture plays a particularly important role in our business.  Because we work through traditional savings groups, trust plays an incredible role in our business.  While every developing country has tontine type system, the trust co-efficient differs from country to country.  In some regions like West Cameroun for example, the trust co-efficient is so high that people dare not default on their tontine groups because the social costs are so high.  In other countries, the social costs are low and this has effect on our business – especially around default rates on loans.


Group d’Awa Mars 2018 EN

What are you hoping to get out of your experience at CATAPULT?

The outcome that I am seeking from CATAPULT is the ability to take my company to the next level by solving key strategic problems around customer acquisition, partnerships, funding strategies & talent acquisitions.


What does ​’financial inclusion’ mean to you?

Financial inclusion to me means the ability to deliver a range of financial services (loans, savings, micro-insurance etc.) digitally to the financially excluded in a way that is available, accessible and affordable.



Top image courtesy of Mobile for Development.


The LHoFT Foundation

The LHoFT Foundation is a not-for-profit initiative supported by the public & private sector to drive innovation for, and digitialisation of Luxembourg’s financial services industry. The LHoFT is the national platform and central hub for Fintech, working to connect the domestic and international community to solve challenges and address opportunities that will ensure the Financial Industry’s continued competitiveness.

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