Interview with Louis Antoine Muhire: Founder & CEO MERGIMS
Louis-Antoine Muhire: Founder & CEO MERGIMS Solutions
My name is Louis-Antoine Muhire and I'm the founder and CEO of MERGIMS. I was born in eastern province of Rwanda specifically in Bugesera, in the early eighties. I am a college graduate from New Medias at Ottawa University. I have two bachelor’s degrees in Marketing and Public Relations for social causes and business enterprises. I have also worked for the Montreal Police for more than three years in its intelligence unit, and then quit the comfortable job to start MERGIMS.
TAP: What services does MERGIMS offer?
We are a payment mobile application that allows (for now) migrants from Rwanda to pay airtime, utility bills and tuition fees for their family or those who depend on them back home. Before the end of the year we should be present in all East Africa, with more features such as Food or Mortgage payment, etc…
TAP: When and how did you come up with the “Mergims” idea?
When you live in the diaspora, you face many challenges; among them is always the need to help relatives back home. The classic way this is done is of course to send the money, through money transfers. Whoever has used these services, knows how stressful this can be. You basically need at least an hour to complete the full process since you have to find a branch, line up, fill the complicated paper work, and have the cashier type out all the information then run back to work.
In search of a way out, I asked different immigrants about their money transfer methods and the complaint was communal. So MERGIMS came as a response to my frustration, bad experiences and expensive service fees from the money transfer companies. Most relatives have no idea how hard it is to earn money in the West so they end up misusing the funds.
TAP: Why should the diaspora use MERGIMS and not the Money Transfers?
One can control the money he/she sends and also the time spent. We are connecting Immigrants directly to merchants in East Africa, starting with Rwanda. We came up with a business model that literally sliced the cost halfway, by charging five percent instead of the ten percent service fee from the money transfers companies.
TAP: Take us through the Mergims APP process step by step; from registration to paying the bills? What exactly does someone need to get MERGIMS services?
Our application is very simple. It will take you a maximum of five minutes since you have to create your profile in three easy steps. Once logged in, one chooses among the services that they require. They then fill up whatever details that are needed in order to have the service delivered to the right beneficiary. You can then checkout using either debit, Visa or MasterCard. For members, the whole process takes approximately three minutes to complete.
TAP: Which major institutions (banks, utility companies, schools,) have you secured partnerships with so far?
Equity bank is one of our key partners. They process our payment via PayPal, along with the payment gateway from Kenya called iPay, we are in talks with Bank of Kigali for possible future collaboration. We are also in talks with most of the major Universities in Rwanda. We are also partnering with the number one reseller of airtime and utility bills in Rwanda. In due time, we will expand in other countries of East Africa and diversify the application features.
TAP: Beside you being from Rwanda, what other reasons compelled you to venture into Rwanda? Are you looking at other countries in the region?
Well, I am Rwandan but business oriented too. Before choosing Rwanda as the starting point, I visited East Africa and definitely Rwanda stood out from the rest because of security reasons and also because it is free and less complicated to open a business in Rwanda than anywhere else in EAC.
TAP: Overall, what has been the most fulfilling part serving Rwandans?
The fulfilling part is that by opening a business in Rwanda, I’ve been able to create job opportunities therefore, fighting poverty. I believe the 1994 genocide found its origins in poverty. Thus, I am doing my bit to prevent another horror in my country.
TAP: In one statement, why should anyone use MERGIMS?
It is a premium solution to a very specific problem. MERGIMS is also a 100% African solution for an African problem. So to all Africans, and friends of Africa, use it and support it, you should be proud of what Rwandan kids have managed to offer to Africa. If MERGIMS isn’t in your region yet, download it any way so as to encourage us to deploy it in your country before the planned dates. We thank you in advance.
MERGIMS is one of the 1000 African companies selected to participate in the $100 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship program this year. Interview initially published in TAP MAG Issue 3.