Ecobank Fintech Challenge 2023: Koree takes top prize on promise of change  

Koree solves a recurring problem in the daily purchases of customers in Africa – a lack of change. Founder Magalie Gauze-Sanga tells Edem Gadegbeku about the company.


This article is sponsored by Ecobank

Magalie Gauze-Sanga, founder and CEO of fintech Koree (pictured above, right), is the first Cameroonian to climb to the top of the annual Ecobank Fintech Challenge prize. In this interview, she tells us how the prize will help the company to achieve its goals.

What do you think convinced the jury to award you the Ecobank Fintech Challenge?

The technological innovation we’ve been implementing in Cameroon for many years was rewarded on October 6, 2023. We’re very proud of this, especially as it’s the first time Cameroon has won this competition, and the first time the Ecobank Fintech Challenge first prize has been won by a woman! I’m doubly proud…it’s a sign of pan-African recognition to be ranked in first place at the end of this competition, given its importance in African fintech and the growing importance of innovation in this ecosystem. I would like to sincerely thank the organisers of this competition, the jurors, and the participants in the 2023 edition.

Koree is an application we created in 2022 with the aim of impacting the daily purchasing power of Africans in their basic transactions. It solves a recurring problem in the daily purchases of store customers in French-speaking Africa, namely that of issuing change after a transaction.

What does Koree do for users’ daily lives?

Koree is a mobile application available free of charge on the Appstore and Playstore. Koree currently operates in Cameroon (Douala), but will soon be deployed in several French-speaking African countries. It’s an application that enables consumers to create loyalty cards, and these loyalty cards are used as wallets when there’s a shortage of change at the checkout of a store or supermarket.

When a cashier runs out of change, she can give you your due digitally, and this money will be credited directly to your loyalty card in the app. From the app, you can return to the same shop, and use the money that has been credited to make your usual purchases.

The second practical solution offered by Koree is a response to the declining purchasing power of African consumers in recent years. To this end, Koree has introduced the concept of cashback, which is in fact an “incentive” offered by merchants to consumers, i.e. money offered by merchants to consumers just to reward them for coming to their stores.

Here’s a simple, concrete example: for a purchase of one thousand francs you make in a store that offers 10% cashback, the seller will reimburse you 100. This money will also be credited to your loyalty card. And just like the change you’ve collected, the cashback given to you can be used in the store that gave it to you, to buy whatever you want. The more you shop at partner retailers, the more money you earn, and the more you use the money you’ve earned.

What are your short- and medium-term prospects after winning the Ecobank Fintech Challenge?

In the short term, we’re going to open up the application to a wider network, acquire new customers, in Douala, and then go to Côte d’Ivoire, in Abidjan, in anticipation of the CAN 2024, as this competition will attract a high level of consumption. So we’ll need to be on the ground when the competition takes place. Behind this presence in Côte d’Ivoire, we plan to work very closely with Ecobank to develop new services and attract even more new customers.