Case Studies / Cim Finance and Synthesis launch Aspira in Kenya—in just 6 months, using agile, mobile and AWS cloud

To launch its Africa expansion strategy and gain first mover advantage, Cim Finance, the largest non-bank financial service provider in Mauritius, has taken an agile and cloud approach, delivering spectacular results! With the assistance of specialist financial services solution provider Synthesis, it has, in just six short months, launched Kenya’s first fully mobile hire-purchase loan service – Aspira.

“Our research shows that Aspira’s product financing service will find a ready market among Kenya’s rapidly urbanising, growing middleclass. But, even more importantly for Cim Finance, the scalability of the cloud architecture upon which Aspira is built will let us maximise our first-mover advantage—we can rapidly roll it out across the African continent wherever our retail partners (Elite Digital, Jumia and Victoria Courts) have established a footprint,” says Lydia Maison, Cim Finance’s Head of Innovation in Kenya.


Having saturated the Mauritius market, Cim Finance wanted to expand its offering. “Cim Finance identified Kenya as its first point of entry onto the continent due to the high demand for credit and maturity of mobile usage in the country,” explains Maison. “This presented us with an opportunity to innovate, building a digital foundation to drive our expansion.

Cim Finance’s established relationship with Synthesis prompted it to engage the company to assist with this project. “Our goal was to bootstrap the offering, developing non-conventional credit scoring models and business processes to allow a small expansion office with lean resources to build an end-to-end product financing service,” says Tjaard du Plessis of Synthesis.


Synthesis took a lean startup approach to the project. A small Synthesis and Cim Finance team headed to Kenya to do on-the-ground, face-to-face market research. “We wanted to get a minimum viable product to the customer as soon as possible, test it with customers and iterate, continuously improving it,” notes Du Plessis.


The technology

The team chose Mambu, a cloud-native software-as-a-service loan management solution to manage the Aspira back office. Cim engaged a Kenyan specialist to optimise the UX, while Synthesis brought in the UI expertise, selecting React Native to build a cross-platform (Android and iOS) app.

At the same time, the team launched a point of sale (PoS) solution for retailers. The PoS Web app, which runs on any Internet-enabled device, was deployed to retailers to enable them to identify customers who had been approved for finance and to generate contracts. The complete solution comprises a custom API that orchestrates the Mambu back-office loan management solution, a mobile application that enables customers to apply for and manage their loans, and a Web app for agents and retailers to create loans and generate loan contracts.

By May 2018, the new-look Aspira app was fully functional as was the Mambu back office integration and PoS solution for retail partners.

The benefits

“We believe we have made a great start with over 10,000 downloads of the app,” says Maison.

“What we have learned by taking a lean start-up and agile approach to developing this solution is invaluable. As a start-up we were able to rapidly respond to meet both our partners’ requirements and customer needs.

“Synthesis has been fantastic to work with. The lean start-up and agile methodologies they applied helped us achieve in 10 months what would have taken a 100 using traditional approaches. Their microservices and cloud capabilities and experience have allowed us to build a future-capable solution that will provide a strong foundation on which to launch Cim’s expansion into other African markets.”

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Cim Finance to co-create a platform to launch its digital play into Africa. It is an exciting solution that will set a benchmark for fintechs in the region,” says Du Plessis. “For Cim Finance, we believe this is just the beginning.”

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