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How to start an Mpesa Agent Business [2019]

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Budget: Sh40,000 or more

One of the most revolutionary innovations in Kenya’s financial sector over the recent past has been M-Pesa. Almost every household in Kenya now uses M-Pesa for various transactions such as sending money, paying bills, requesting for loans, paying insurance premiums etc.

With over 20 million subscribers, M-Pesa is one of the largest financial networks in Kenya today. The demand for M-Pesa services has continued to increase as more services are added to the M-Pesa menu. It is even more convenient since the transactions are available 24/7, from anywhere in Kenya.

Setting up a business as an M-Pesa agent is, therefore, a good business idea in Kenya today. With this service in demand everywhere all the time, it can turn out to be a viable business idea.

In your M-Pesa business, you will be required to agent received deposits from customers and give out cash to the customer as they withdraw. On some occasions, you will be required also to registers new customers.

How M-Pesa works

Your business will involve the following;

  • M-Pesa Deposit

This is when customers come to put in cash into their accounts. They will give you cash, confirm the amount and you will get their mobile number. You will then send cash electronically to their M-Pesa account. Both the customer and yourself will get a confirmation message on the phone that the cash has been loaded.

  • M-Pesa Withdrawal

When customers wants to get hard cash, they will come to you and use your agent number, perform a transaction for the amount they want to withdraw. Similarly, both the customer and yourself will receive a confirmation message on the phone for the transaction. You will then give cash to the customer.

What You Need

To set up an M-Pesa Agent business, you will operate in any of the levels such as a super-agent, agent or a sub-agent. Super agents require high cash deposits. These are mostly institutions such as banks or big retailers. To become an agent, you need to meet strict requirements set by Safaricom such as having been in business for over 6 months, be a limited company and have at least 3 outlets in different provinces among other cash deposit requirements.

Agents need to be limited companies or equivalents with at least 3 outlets and the outlets must be in opportunity areas, should have operated for about 6 months and other cash deposit requirements. Officially agents are supposed to recruit subagents and help them meet conditions of operation as laid out by Safaricom

Your best entry point for a start would be as a sub-agent. A subagent operates under the agent since the agent is supposed to recruit the subagent. The agent and sub-agent will share the commissions at an agreed proportion. Therefore to become a subagent you need to approach an agent and get into some form of agreement with him. Most agents will ask for a goodwill of around Sh20,000 to Sh50,000 to give you a till/line.

You will also need room to operate your M-Pesa business from. This should be in a busy place preferably with many other businesses. Your earnings will be commission based therefore you will need to carry out as many transactions as possible. You don’t need a big space, just enough room for you or your employee. Your customers will be served from outside. With a rent of Sh5,000 to Sh10,000, you can get a good spacious room in a residential shopping centre or a busy trading centre. You may spend another Sh5,000 for branding.

How you will operate

As stated earlier, your transactions will be customer deposits and withdrawals. You will earn a commission on every withdrawal and deposit, depending on the amount. For every M-Pesa withdrawal, Safaricom charges the customer a transaction fee. A subagent gets a percentage of this fee as commission. Though Safaricom does not charge M-Pesa customers for deposits it pays the sub Mpesa agent a commission for every deposit made through his till.

Remember, as a sub-agent, depending on your agreement with the agent, you may get less commission compared to the agent. You should be keen to negotiate a favourable revenue-sharing formula with the agent.

At the end of the month, Safaricom will pay the agent commission based on the transactions carried out that month and the agent will then pay you your share. Agree with the agent on the date of payment and remember to ask for a statement every month which shows the transactions and the commissions earned.

License

For this business, you will not require any special permits or license apart from that from the county government. It will be advisable to include other businesses say a shop or maximize the space by selling airtime, or other goods which are taken care of in the license, to maximize profits. Depending on where you operate and your set up, the license will cost you Sh7,000 to Sh10,000.

Pros

  • Does not need special skills to operate. Most O-level leavers can be trained to operate the business.
  • Does not require a big space to operate.
  • There are no goods to stock.
  • Demand is high 24/7.

Cons

  • The security risk of keeping cash in the business all the time.
  • Risk of handling fake currency is high.
  • Competition has become very stiff, the business is almost flooded.
  • Risk of fraud by criminals claiming to be Safaricom agents.

M-Pesa business, just like any other service business requires good customer service. With many agents now available in almost every street corner, attracting customers is very important. Your earnings will depend on how many customers transact in your shop. It is therefore good for your business if customers keep flocking to your shop for transactions. This will only be possible if you offer good customer service.

Train your staff to be on the lookout for fraudsters who may want to play tricks and steal your cash, fake currency and to be alert at all times. Fraudsters may not look obvious suspects. Dealing with money is a risk and care must be taken to avoid loss.

On an average month, and operating in a fairly busy location, the M-Pesa business can easily attract as many as 20 -50 transactions per day, which can give returns ranging from Sh15,000 to above Sh50,000 in one month.

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For those who need M-Pesa lines, please whatsapp/ SMS +254718283540

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