Ibrahima Touré is a determined entrepreneur committed to fighting financial exclusion. Originally from the Ivory Coast, he was immersed in the world of entrepreneurship from a very early age.
Deeply affected by the story of his mother, who has always suffered from financial exclusion because the banks considered her to be too much of a risk, he promised himself to fight the injustice that his mother and many others face. He chose to study banking law and in 2017, he left his family for France to continue his education.
He met Nessim Rahmoun at Ecole 42. They became fast friends. "We started a beautiful friendship; he is almost like my brother". With their personal predispositions, Ibrahima for entrepreneurship, and Nessim for social projects, they decided to collaborate to create a start-up with a strong social impact, Kalikan. Their mission? "To replace traditional bank accounts by offering a financing platform without the constraints of traditional banking, accessible to all.”
The project was borne from an observation made by Ibrahima in Ivory Coast, where more than 20 million people do not have bank accounts and are subjected to financial exclusion. To fund their projects and daily costs, those excluded from the system turn to "tontines", rotating kitties where money is pooled together and lent to the participants without the usual banking constraints. At the beginning everything usually goes well, but "in the long term it always goes awry! Some of them do not keep their commitments and the others are left in the lurch," Ibrahima explains.
Their solution is Kalikan, an application that aims to solve the difficulty of access to banking products. At first, the app was launched in France and in the Ivory Coast. In the African application, it is possible to finance oneself through "tontines" and to transfer money. There are also solutions for collecting payments and purchasing local services. By proposing a complete range of services, this fintech application is tailored to African realities and meets the specific needs of the region. These "tontines" finance the creation of new businesses, the purchase of supplies, pay for studies, or are used as consumer credit. But Ibrahima still wants to increase Kalikan's social impact, especially through the type of projects financed by the tontines. "To encourage this social impact, we are thinking of setting up a social entrepreneurship award."
What differentiates Kalikan from traditional "tontines" are the different levels of security: "We check people’s identities, their behavior and financial capacity, and according to that financial capacity, the user can access different amounts of financing. This system provides a guarantee that allows us to compensate for non-payment situations." The application's algorithm works like a classic bank rating solution: each time the user meets his commitments, he can access higher pools.
The app quickly became a success, thus demonstrating that it answered a pressing market need: "We launched Kalikan in France at the end of March and there are currently about 2,000 subscribers. In Ivory Coast, we launched it at the beginning of June, and we have more than 10,000 downloads, and 100,000 euros of transactions in the first month." If Kalikan is had a harder time penetrating the French market, it's because there are already several well-established crowdfunding solutions. That is why, after having pivoted several times, Ibrahima and Nessim have decided to focus on the African application in Ivory Coast, letting French market grow organically.
Their goal for the next two years is to penetrate the Ivorian market, and depending on their development rate, to open up to the rest of West Africa where more than 150 million people are unbanked. Their ambition is to export the product to other countries, like an African Alipay, the Chinese credit access, online payment and money transfer system developed by Ali Baba. To quickly penetrate the market, Kalikan plans to raise funds to finance its infrastructure and gain autonomy.
Ibrahima's entrepreneurial journey has not been easy, success takes time. "You have to be prepared to be like Forrest Gump, you start running but you don't know when you'll stop," he says. If he's been able to stay the course, it's mainly because of his friendship with Nessim, his collaborator. "It is thanks to our strong friendship that we are where we are today, because without it, when faced with difficult times, we surely would have given up long ago."
Ibrahima - a perseverant, passionate entrepreneur who's always on the move - had a dream: to start a business and invent a solution to improve the living conditions of those close to him. With Kalikan, the more this dream comes to life, the more others can afford to dream as well.