Building Boost: The Potential for Infinite Scale with Mastercard
A series where we share learnings from our journey of building the business of Boost.
By 2050, Africa’s population will reach 2.5 billion people across 54 countries. For an African girl born today, her continent will add an additional 1 billion people – or three times the current population of the United States – before her 26th birthday.
The implications of this are hard to fathom. On one hand, the one-directional march towards ubiquitous smartphone penetration, 5G internet and artificial intelligence (AI) poses tremendous commercial and impact opportunities. On the other hand, the pace and change of progress will vary significantly between and within countries, and the increased stresses on already insufficient infrastructure, services and jobs could lead to severe socio-economic failures.
These opposing forces are already playing out today in Africa’s supply chains. Most African consumers buy their essential goods and services like soap, toothpaste and food from local micro-retail stores. These “retailers” are in turn supplied by family-owned, small and medium, distribution and wholesale businesses that move products on behalf of global and local manufacturers. Typically, these “last mile” supply chain businesses operate offline, trade in cash and lack sufficient working capital to meet their current demand – despite the smartphones, tablets and computers their owners may have access to. As a result, African supply chains are rife with both inefficiencies and inconsistencies that depress growth for everyone.
Finding solutions to these challenges at the scale required to meet the need is why Boost has partnered with Mastercard. Mastercard’s mission is “to connect and power an inclusive digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible.” They have pioneered digital inclusion since their founding nearly 60 years ago and have built one of the most trusted brands on the planet. Just last year, Mastercard had 3 billion cards in circulation and processed 9 trillion digital payment transactions.
Boost’s numbers are of course tiny in comparison. But all things big and global once started small and local (including Mastercard). Making the leap requires the ability to “scale infinitely,” which is driven by smart design, relentless execution and the right partnerships.
Boost’s multi-tenant, multi-language Platform-as-a-Service is already serving dozens of distributors and wholesalers supplying 15,000 retailers across West, East, South and North Africa. By partnering with Mastercard, Boost will expand to offer two new critical components to any user in any of our current or future markets:
First, Boost will develop the ability to offer Mastercard’s payment acceptance and issuing solutions, including a stored value wallet. This will be a giant step towards creating cashless supply chains that will bring down the costs of getting essential manufactured goods to consumers, especially in peri-urban and rural areas.
Second, Mastercard will enable Boost to tap into its vast network of banks and payment providers so that Boost can become a conduit to provide embedded supply chain financing. This will remove one of the greatest constraints to small business growth, while also opening up an opportunity for partner banks to profitably reach new customer segments that fall outside of their traditional distribution channels and risk models.
With Mastercard, Boost’s potential for infinite scale to power growth for millions of businesses across Africa and beyond is one step closer to reality. Let the partnership begin!