Tamuka Mpofu talks about adventure, creativity and the future of fintech

Tamuka shares how he and his finance team navigated the challenges of the last year together.

by Adenike Fapohunda

Tamuka Mpofu has been the CFO of lending company Finclusion since January 2020. His day-to-day consists mostly of oversight and ensuring business goals are being met with regard to the financing, but recently he’s been speaking to a lot of investors to meet the goal of increasing the scale of Finclusion.

This has not been an easy task as Finclusion is based in various jurisdictions in Mauritius, southern and eastern Africa, meaning that Tamuka has had to contend with multi-jurisdictional regulations, a pandemic that has been fraught with uncertainties, and hurdles such as investor attitudes during this time.

“The last few months have been nothing short of demanding, but I am grateful to my team, who have been nimble and adaptable,” he says. “Their combined effort has allowed Finclusion to stay attuned to the challenges and address them efficiently, all while holding onto our goal of holistic financial wellness. You have to surround yourself with people who have the same drive and goals that you have, as well as the correct expertise.”

The future of financial services
Tamuka is very excited about the future of finance and technology, particularly as they pertain to the growth of new, technology-powered financial instruments. “Although South Africa’s GDP has seen a decline, I am positive about increasing household spending and a wave of innovation that will bolster the market Finclusion operates in. I think there is much to be optimistic and bullish about.”

He adds that Facebook, Uber and Spotify are examples of innovation that changed our societies and the way we interact with the world and feels that we are on the cusp of another great wave of innovations.

“In a way, Finclusion’s offerings can be seen as part of this wave,” he says. “With more financial offerings available online through smartphones, more people can move away from brick-and-mortar structures. The pandemic has accelerated this shift, and is, in a way, a double-edged sword.

“While it has resulted in negative outcomes for both society and the economy, this move away from traditional financial structures has provided ample opportunity to create exciting financial offerings that are user-experience driven. This is especially exciting on our continent because we have so many young people who value solutions that save time and are user experience driven, while providing value.”

Finclusion is providing these solutions with some of their offerings. With Nifty, consumers can access personal credit of up to R12,000 online. SmartAdvance is a digital lending service that gives people access to financing for emergencies, medical expenses and even furniture. Fractal Labs, another Finclusion offering, harvests data and uses it to solve business problems by creating financial tools, and Nifty Cover provides comprehensive insurance for funerals and commuters.

These are all responses to a changing world, where an estimated 80 percent of South Africans have access to smartphones that would allow them to access these services. On the rest of the continent, these numbers, although not as high, are growing.

Moreover, the responses are powered by knowledge gained through Artificial Intelligence, which allows Finclusion to understand the market and gather and analyse data that addresses problems people face with accessing tools. “Finclusion is for everyone,” says Tamuka. “That means these opportunities for growth are limitless.”

Adventure and creativity
Tamuka has been an avid first aider since high school. Rapid response is something that he’s extremely passionate about. This is partly because he’s such an adventurous person. He loves to immerse himself in other cultures through travel and recently he’s attempted learning to surf in addition to being a pre-pandemic marathon runner and ardent swimmer.

All these experiences increase his creativity, something he argues is essential in being a CFO. He believes in pushing and challenging himself.

Although being a CFO has traditionally been a rigid job, Tamuka believes that there is space for creativity. His boldness allows him to better solve problems and deal with his busy schedule and the many obstacles that his work life throws his way.

Tamuka describes the process of challenging himself as being tough at first, “but then you start seeing improvements and start enjoying it”. He firmly believes this constant challenging of self equips him with the skills to produce creative solutions and overcome failures.