My team and I started building Alvin last May as the solution to a problem we were each acutely feeling — there was no app we could find in Kenya that did all the following in a personalized way:
After digging further, we realized this was a problem for individuals across Africa, and coincidentally especially those of lower to middle incomes who feel the consequence more severely when they overspend or otherwise mis-plan their spending to get through the month while making progress toward their goals. Very inspiringly, however, we also saw countless examples where, when folks had a roadmap toward a clear, financially prosperous outcome, working class and middle class folks alike demonstrated an ability and interest to save consistently despite economic challenges (one of our favorite stories of this).
The few personal finance apps otherwise available in Africa 1.) often require you to register expenses manually in an app; 2.) don’t offer data-driven personalization to show you “if you want this, then this is what your life looks like to get it”, with daily support and gamification schemes to get there; and/or 3.) are not tailored to the intricacies of African spending and savings cultures (an example of this is the importance of appreciating irregular income flows for the majority of Africans who earn income consistently but in varying amounts week to week as entrepreneurs).
Beyond being a problem for end consumers, the lack of personalized financial guidance for consumers has real commercial implications for banks, asset managers and fintechs. These firms have an inherent interest in wanting their customers to be better stewards of their funds, but often don’t offer much personalized support for them to do so. The consequence is high overdraft rates and thousands of customers who technically have the net income to afford to ultimately acquire an asset (i.e., it would take three people earning $500/month and saving $50/month just 20 months to buy an acre of land worth $3,000 USD together, with the threshold for land ownership in Kenya being even lower) or qualify for more premium loan products, but find themselves often mired in un-strategic debt or consistently overspending.
If this problem were solved, banks and fintechs would be able to not just identify more individuals to lend to who may not be salaried (this is the industry’s current focus as a whole), but they could cultivate more customers across their existing customer base to become creditworthy. Doing this would unlock millions of dollars in new revenue opportunities at a fraction of the cost to acquire a new customer.
So, we’re solving this problem, both for African consumers directly via the Alvin App as well as via the banks and fintechs whose apps Africans already use and trust.
At Alvin, we believe all you should need to align your daily spending with a clear strategy toward buying land, a car, or achieving any other goal, is a smartphone with basic data access. The Alvin App: Labrador is our inaugural app release in Kenya to start the journey of making this a reality for all Africans. It features the ability to set and manage a budget based on your most important savings goal and automatically track your MPESA transactions accordingly to ensure you’re staying on course.
Immediate enhancements to the Alvin App experience are already well underway. These include introducing the ability to customize your daily and weekly spending limits, improvements to how you manage your savings progress in the app, and much much more. We also are building white-label money management widgets that can be embedded into existing banking and fintech apps to enhance the speed-to-market for enterprises to deliver personalized financial guidance to their customers.
In the meantime, download the Alvin App v1 Labrador beta app today! You can also sign up for periodical updates from us by dropping your email at the bottom of our website. See you soon!
Founder & CEO at Alvin
P.S. — we’re hiring! Check out our Careers page to see currently available opportunities to join Team Alvin.
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