In this interview with Rachel Balsham, the Managing Director for Southern and East Africa at Onafriq, we explored the company’s journey over the past years and the motivation behind its rebranding from Mobile Financial Services (MFS) Africa.
With nine years of experience at the company, Balsham has played a pivotal role in its growth and recent rebranding.
Prior to joining Onafriq, Balsham was a consultant with Bain & Co., where she worked on strategy and operations projects for telecom and financial services clients. In her current role at Onafriq, she manages investor relations, strategic partnerships, and talent.
Balsham’s leadership and strategic vision have been instrumental in Onafriq’s expansion to over 40 African countries and its mission to bring digital payment solutions to small businesses across the continent.
The decision to rebrand was driven by the need to expand beyond mobile money services. As Balsham explains, the company now connects to banks and cash pick-up networks, offering a more comprehensive range of services. The name ‘Onafriq’ reflects this broader scope and ambition.
In addition to its expanded services, Onafriq is playing a crucial role in the actualization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA). The company’s services, including cash transactions, are facilitating cross-border and regional integration. Balsham expressed optimism about the potential of regulations embraced through the AfCTA to further this integration.
Since 2015, Onafriq has been in partnership with Safaricom, and it plans to collaborate with more mobile network platforms in Africa. The company recently launched services in Eswatini and Ethiopia, continuing its mission to break down barriers to global trade and promote economic progress.
Onafriq’s network, which spans 40 African markets, connects over 500 million mobile money wallets, 200 million bank accounts, and 300,000 agents in Nigeria. This connectivity enables domestic and international disbursements and collections, card issuing and processing, agency banking, and treasury services.
By simplifying the intricacies of cross-border transactions, Onafriq is not just facilitating the movement of money but also empowering individuals and businesses across Africa. As Balsham puts it, the company hopes to promote empowerment and economic progress by tearing down these obstacles.