People with a passion: Charlotte Rønje

Tell us about your work

My company’s name, JamiiPay, means “community pay” in Swahili. We are a fintech company offering digital platform and app, which registers people’s saving activities in Ethiopia. The purpose is to create their credit histories so that they can obtain access to loans from banks. Right now, 99% of people have no access to banks.

Let me explain how it works. 30 years ago, an NGO came to Ethiopia and advised people to create “saving groups” and save up together using metal boxes with locks. If you put money in the box, you get a stamp, and it is noted. Collected money can be loaned between members with a fee.

What we offer is a digital tool that allows people to keep the same records, but on the phone. That means that we, and NGOs, can also get access to the credit data. And based on that data, we can provide banks with the information they need to determine the creditworthiness of a group.

We just launched our service in Ethiopia a few weeks ago. Our app was used in the first savings and loans meeting and it worked! All the wonderful women there had a dream of what they would do if they could have access to a loan. It was an amazing experience – and so filled with a responsibility to deliver on our intention to get these people loans.

My goal is to be a part of giving people a better chance to reach their own dreams. I hate when people talk about “helping” these people. They don’t need help, they just need a decent situation, like access to good education or loan. Then they will fly.

“I hate when people talk about helping these people. They just need a decent situation.”

What’s your passion?

My passion is definitely other people’s culture.

When I was 12, I stayed at a host family in Canada. That was the first taste of experiencing different cultures. Since then, I lived with families in England, Switzerland, U.S., Nicaragua, Costa Rica. I have visited 40 countries, I travelled 32 states in the U.S.

After these experiences, I believe that value-wise, everyone in the world is pretty much the same. It is just different ways of expressing it.

Once I volunteered to build a house in Costa Rica. But I was not an experienced worker, and also, it costed a lot of money for me because I had to sign up for the program. I am educated and I have a privilege to have a long free education in Denmark. So I feel like I have a responsibility to build something with that—something that is more scalable. That is the kind of difference I should make.
Now my passion and business became one.

What do you like most about Republikken?

The ambience. It is somewhere you want to come.

We went to check other places, but here, people are more down to earth, creative and innovative. And it is not too innovative to be almost trashy.

We started to use here since January 2019. If we were classic fintech, we would have stayed in FinTech Lab. We are just different, we are just as much as about customer experiences and cultures.

Friendship vibe here penetrates the whole thing. People at coffee machine are open and engaging and so sweet. It makes us want to stay.


Words by Yoko Inoue

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