As the world moves towards a cashless system, especially with the excitement around fintechs facilitating financial products and services, Kolo Lagos believes we can still promote financial literacy the old-fashioned way. Using real piggy banks or “kolo” – as they are called in Nigeria. The kolo brand hopes to promote a culture of savings among Nigerians. Indeed, despite the rapid adoption of cashless systems and fintechs, a significant percentage of the population still depends on cash to carry out daily transactions. “It’s our audience,” says Ufia D. Aniebietabasi, who founded the company four years ago. “But it’s not just cash users. We want to remind people to save and invest, whether you use a kolo or a digital platform. »
Whether addressing childhood nostalgia or fusing Afrocentric designs on boxes, and customizing kolo boxes to match users’ saving goals, the entire Brand Kolo is designed to inspire the average Nigerian to save. “We want people to be enthusiastic about saving,” says Anietebasi. “We want you to be inspired enough to save because the box looks good or because it has your business name on it.” The company caters to people of all ages. And has a customer base that extends outside of the continent – which is no small feat considering the significant number of fintechs that primarily offer savings features. “Non-Africans bought these boxes just because they liked them. Most of the time they don’t even use it to save money,” she says.
Anietebasi, a mass communicator, was inspired to start this business after an experience at school reminded her that she had no savings. “During my last year at the University of Lagos, there were so many extracurricular activities that required me to spend money,” she recalls. “That’s when I realized that everyone around me had a scramble or savings to fund themselves. And I didn’t. As a student, Anieteabsi had regular the reserve money she withdrew from the bank which she spent in various ways. “I remember being given a box of kolo when I was a child. My parents used to give money to my siblings and to me in hopes that we would save. Then one day they will ask you to show what you have saved. Before, I had no savings because I would have spent my money on Beloxxi cookies,” says -she.
Aniteabsi wanted to recreate that. When she couldn’t find a piggy bank seller online, she asked a local carpenter to make one for her. “The prices were exorbitant, however. Especially for the quality I got,” she said. Eventually, she found a good seller. “I mentioned online that I was going on a savings journey with ‘kolo.’ Surprisingly, I got a lot of requests to join,” she says. .”
Companies such as Kolo Lagos play an important role in today’s financial literacy. The world BankThe Global Findex database shows that savings in Nigeria are at their lowest level in ten years. In 2021, only 17.7% of the adult population (15 years and older) saved in a financial institution, which is much lower than it was in 2011, when it was 23.6%. It also shows that cash remains the most preferred mode of payment in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the production of these boxes is not cheap. To obtain durable kolo boxes, Anie must use quality raw materials and the services of skilled craftsmen. “Initially, we organized a kind of audition to filter the many craftsmen”, explains Aniebietabasi. “We wanted ones that had quality control on their side, from wood sourcing to finishing.” Boxes sell for N4000 ($9) to N14,000 ($32). As expected, the price of the kolo depends on size, raw materials, aesthetics, and in some cases, special customer requirements. “Currently, production takes place in Lagos. We tried to find artisans outside of Lagos to see how to find suppliers outside of Lagos to streamline the cost of production by a certain percentage,” says Aniebietabasi.
One of the boxes, the “Maxi Kubwa” is designed with oak wood. At first glance, you encounter the natural grain that exudes elegance and can fit into any modern decor. The boxes are sturdy and impenetrable – except for a small incision that allows banknotes to enter the box. It’s common to see people complaining about rodents destroying their piggy banks before they can open them. “Some funds are so strong that, given the stress it takes to break them, you’d rather see your savings plans through,” Anibietabasi says.
Kolo Lagos’ goal goes beyond inculcating a culture of savings. By encouraging people to save, more people become aware of investments. A customer, Amah Nwankwo, bought a large box of kolo to meet her big savings goals. “I’m saving to buy a house this year,” she says. Another customer, Kelechi Ezeofor, says he realized he had spent way too much on rechargeable phone cards when he received a box of kolo.
Aniebietabasi intends to forge partnerships to help spread the message of ‘Kolo’ and rekindle a culture of salvation among the people. Currently, the company is running a financial literacy session for children through workshops and seminars on the importance of saving. The brand plans to expand this by working with schools to create clubs where they can teach children to save. Kolo Lagos also intends to have more distribution centers in its most demanded states like Abuja and other southwestern states. For Aniebietabasi, the dream is to inspire a culture of savings that goes beyond digitalization. “At Kolo Lagos, we see ourselves as guardians of this culture. And we will continue to inspire people to save.