During the announcement of Budget 2023, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul said that a total of RM235 million in financing funds would be specifically allocated to women.
These would be delegated through BSN Semarak-Nita, Tekunita TEKUN, DanaNITA MARA, and Biz Lady Bank Rakyat schemes to help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses and enhance their marketing strategies.
On a smaller scale but with objectives that are no less noble, these initiatives are exactly what the team at MADCash hope to carry out too.
A Shariah-compliant fintech ecosystem builder, MADCash mainly provides microfunding to women entrepreneurs who need a cash flow injection, founders Nuraizah (Aizah) and Dr. Nikolai told us.
Their digital platform also tracks the impact of the microfunding given to their beneficiaries with the end goal of generating a credit score for the unbanked.
With such ambitious goals, we spoke to the founders to learn more about how the platform is going about achieving them.
Not just giving out money
Aizah herself is a seasoned technopreneur, building and leading companies that create software and mobile apps.
She is also currently the President of Women Entrepreneur Network Association Malaysia (WENA), and this coupled with her own entrepreneurial experience puts her in a prime position to run MADCash.
By her side is Dr. Nikolai, who’s also an angel investor and advisor for MADCash. He brings with him experience in mega projects in Malaysia, such as the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) and Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ).
The rest of the team has strengths in the technical aspect of things, with a community specialist helping them as well.
What got the ball rolling for MADCash was when, circa the early pandemic in April 2020, the team saw that women entrepreneurs were struggling to restart their micro businesses after the first lockdown.
“We raised RM3K and gave it to three ladies, who made RM17K in total the very next month,” the founders shared.
Motivated by this, they continued the effort while refining how they worked.
Then they learnt that just giving money alone wasn’t enough, which led them to start an online academy, and provide mentoring and networking businesses.
Beyond interest-free microloans, the beneficiaries could join an entrepreneurship programme to strengthen their business and financial skills.
Helping women entrepreneurs improve their credit standing
Currently, MADCash provides microloans between RM1K to RM2K to women entrepreneurs who meet their requirements.
“We start with profiling their social economic, financial, and business acumen,” the founders said. About 70 questions are asked, as the team cannot just rely on credit scores when determining their beneficiaries.
This is because most of their beneficiaries do not have credit scores with financial institutions, a situation that the MADCash team hopes to help with as well.
To predict future bankability though, MADCash is building its own algorithm.
Applicants that go beyond the profiling process will then have an interview with MADCash, either in person or online.
The startup is active in 10 states now, with each state having its own state leader, enabling them to reach various corners of the community more easily.
Through these efforts, they’ve helped three cohorts of women entrepreneurs, bringing their total beneficiaries to about over 200 ladies as of today.
Empowering women as contributors to family income
The funds used in their microfinancing service come from donors, with tiers for public donations and larger amounts supplied by private and angel investors done via a donation agreement.
MADCash takes a 10% management fee from their donors, and raises a separate fund to run their entrepreneurship development programme.
“We are currently introducing MADCash as a proprietary technology platform for organisations to be more data-driven when they do similar work as us,” the founders shared.
“Working with women also gives us opportunities to upsell [women-led] services as our beneficiaries become more financially stable.”
What the team has already achieved is by no means the limits of what they can do; something that the founders also shared was still a work in progress was adding on a profit-sharing arrangement for their beneficiaries.
“We are working on how to meet the minimum requirements of accessing funds from Islamic Social Finance organisations and how to help beneficiaries on a long-term basis,” Aizah and Dr. Nikolai said.
While the emphasis of what MADCash does is largely centred around women, the founders are aware that it will take more people and more work to ensure the sustainability of the programme.
“We believe that all work involving developing women should include our menfolk as the agents of change in reshaping our society to accept the changing landscape of women contributing to family income,” the founders acknowledged.
“Our society grows and flourishes when everyone participates and plays an active part in facilitating the role of women entrepreneurs as key contributors to Malaysia’s economy.”
Featured Image Credit: MADCash