StokFella the brainchild of Moloi
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution begins to hit home in a big way, South Africa has not been left behind, with a number of innovators coming up with all kinds of apps to make our lives easier.
The latest smartphone mobile app, devised two years ago by engineer and financial guru Tshepo Moloi, is meant to serve the R50bn-a-year stokvel industry.
The company and mobile app, aptly named StokFella, is designed to help stokvels with things such as savings and investments, to manage payments, do their savings and access group activities.
"I came up with the app in 2016 after my own experiences and an unsuccessful journey as part of the stokvel culture. I then visited my parents and family's stokvel meetings, observing how they operate," explains Moloi.
"I got to understand how the savings and investment schemes work, the role of the chairman and the executive, how vocal they were during discussions and most significantly, the challenges they faced.
"In a nutshell, the StokFella app is meant to solve the administrative headache of communicating with members. It makes it simple, easy and quick to access all the information stokvel members need from bank statements, balances to member contributions."
Moloi says the app also assists users to identify investment opportunities as most stokvels' members "have the want but not the know-how" to invest for a "house, a car or overseas holiday."
Moloi, 33, a married father of one daughter, says while the app opens a window of investment opportunities to users, it also assists them on how to lower investment risks.
"Investing is all about taking calculated risks although people must be careful not to lose all when taking those risks. The app introduces and explains investments like crowd funding. People must do homework and ask questions."
As most of Moloi's StokFella clients are elderly members of the societies and schemes, he applies the simple interaction method of meeting face-to-face with potential users.
To deal with factors such as trust and technological illiteracy, Moloi says he realised early on that it would be difficult to approach individual members directly but through someone they know and trust.
"We host monthly demonstrations of the app solution in communities. They are conducted by a person in that community. It can be an elder of the society or not, however they must be currently using the application in their stokvel."
The Pimville, Soweto-born, Moloi who holds Masters degrees in engineering and finance, believes an app is not a business but a channel to create a business. "It's a solution or tool to manage life's challenges cost-effectively".
"Imagine the time spent in a queue at a bank by stokvel executives just to get the society's bank account statement? But through the app, executive members like the chairmen and secretaries can access all the data in front of members in a simple and efficient manner that is 100% transparent and secure."
StokFella has more than 9000 registered users who personally registered or were registered by stokvel executives.