For years, Gloria Muteteri, a Rwandan college student, endured long queues at the Western Money agent, to receive her tuition fees from a relative living in canada.
She lined up again and again. And after going through the agonizing wait, she had to deposit the fees on the college’s account number in a bank.
“That often means I have to line up again and again…it’s more like double work,” explains Muteteri.
Apart from the usual long queues, Western Union, MoneyGram and other money transfer agencies have made quite a fortune, worth of service fee from their respective clients.
Perhaps this could explain why MERGIMS, a new Rwanda made mobile application has already registered 100 subscribers during its first 15 days in operation.
Now Rwandans in the diaspora can comfortably buy electricity, pay tuition bills, at a service fee of only 5%. Yet, the transfer agencies charge up to 10%.
“Our services come in at the right time,” says Louis Antoine Muhire, Founder and CEO for MERGIMS.
Muhire describes MERGIM as “the first Rwanda mobile application to transact in real time, on the international market.”
MERGIMS allows Rwandans in the diaspora, to contribute to their relatives’ wellbeing back home, through buying electricity, airtime, clearing water bills and paying tuition fees without incurring ridiculous charges.
Working with megrims only requires uploading the application on play store, on an android phone.
The company partners with credit card operaters, such as banks. After 5 minutes of uploading the application, the procedure does not require personal details, such as names and home address.
“We intended to help people out, not spying on them. This is why we never ask for names,” explains Muhire.
For whatever successful or failed transfer, the sender receives a message.
Meanwhile, Muhire says he hatched the idea in Canada, where he stayed for more than 18 years, after witnessing what many Africans go through sending money back home.
“The most people I talked to expressed concern over high service costs for money transfers, misallocation of the sent money and the inconvenience traditional transfer systems cause,”says Muhire.
Apparently people says they queued up to three hours, in wait to send or to withdraw sent money.
Muhire had five partners, who did not see the urgency, abandoning Muhire all alone, but thanks to a team of Rwanda IT geeks, who worked day and night coding and eventually made megrims a reality.
The application intends to work with over 160 East African universities, to allow tudents receive tuition from relatives easily.
Between February and May, MERGIMS will officially register in Uganda, Kenya, while Burundi and Tanzania will come in before 2015 ends.
Sofar Muhire managed to bring a South African investor onboard; together they have invested at least $55,000.
Meanwhile, the 33 year old entrepreneur hails Rwanda for offering a one year tax break, which has allowed him to woo investors.
He awaits an American Investor to put in $100,000, sometime soon.
As for now, Muteteri and her fellow college students can at least enjoy school, without having to line-up for tuition fees.