Azimo, the digital money transfer service, announced today that it’s waiving its usual £2.99 transaction fee to Sierra Leone for the next three months in an effort to support the country’s economic recovery. Compared with offline money transfer companies, Azimo gives senders up to 10 per cent more on every transaction to Sierra Leone*, ensuring that more money makes it back home at a time when it’s needed most.
Sierra Leone is now one of the poorest countries in the world. It had one of the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa** in 2012, but the 2014 Ebola outbreak took many thousands of lives and devastated the economy, shrinking GDP by as much as 20%***. As the country begins to find its feet again, remittances and direct foreign investment have been recognised as two critical components for economic recovery.
Today, UK Trade & Investment and Developing Market Associates and Azimo, are hosting the UK-Sierra Leone Trade & Investment Forum, to bring together senior government officials – including Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister and High Commissioner – and the private sector to discuss how investment can help to restore the country’s economy following the end of the Ebola outbreak.
Remittance flows are a core aspect of that restoration. There are more than 330,000 Sierra Leonean migrants living around the world, sending more than $70 million home every year****. Unfortunately, traditional money transfer companies are still charging as much as 10 per cent, equating to millions of dollars of money lost in fees.
Speaking at the event, Michael Kent, CEO and Founder of Azimo, said: “For a country such as Sierra Leone, eliminating our transaction fee can have a direct impact on people’s lives at a time when they need it most. While foreign aid was invaluable during the crisis, the regular flow of remittance will have a greater impact in the long term. It’s important we do whatever we can to help that recovery, and lowering our fees to zero is just a part of that. Together with our industry partners, we hope to raise awareness of the issues facing Sierra Leone and increase the flow of funds to help restore what was once one of the fastest-growing markets in West Africa.”
In addition, every Azimo customer has the option to donate £1 of their remittance to Azimo’s charity partner, ActionAid. The charity has worked in Sierra Leone since 1998 supporting the country’s most vulnerable women and children. During the Ebola response, ActionAid reached more than 300,000 people, providing health facilities with supplies, children with education and schools with proper sanitation. During the crisis it helped with emergency items such as food and bedding to Ebola survivors and those under quarantine and continues to work on the long term recovery.
In Sierra Leone and many other parts of Africa, Azimo enables people to send money to a network of cash pick-up locations, bank accounts or mobile phones. As a market leader in digital money transfers, the company has built up the most comprehensive network of any online transfer company, sending money to more than 190 countries in over 70 different currencies.