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Africa is home to some of the world’s most talented people. But unfortunately, many of these talents are not being recognized or utilized. This is due to several factors, including the lack of access to resources and opportunities. In the past, African talents were constrained to either working within their various national borders or completely migrating to a new country. Sometimes even the migration had its constraints, limiting their reach and connections to the global market. 

Today, with the growing demand for freelance and remote roles, African talents can connect with the global market without leaving their homeland to search for greener pastures. This is possible with the number of rising fintech startups bridging the gap between getting foreign remote jobs and getting paid seamlessly. 

Challenges African Talents Face in the Global Market

Freelancing in Africa hasn’t always been seamless. Aside from internet issues, there have been other challenges faced by African freelancers, remote workers, and job seekers. Some of these include;

1. Underpayment

Because of the difficulty in getting foreign accounts, African workers couldn’t receive foreign payments. Also, taking the hassle of converting foreign currencies and dealing with exchange rates, many Africans opted to get paid in their local currency. This then led them to be grossly underpaid because employers don’t pay the equivalent of what they pay their other workers.

Instead, they pay based on the region’s standard of living, taking minimum wage into account or the average salary. And so many African talents have had to endure being underpaid compared to their colleagues. 

2. Lack of flexible foreign accounts

Before now, the only way to get a foreign account was to visit a bank to open a domiciliary account physically. Unfortunately, not everyone could open one. You’d need some referees who use the same bank, a minimum opening account balance, and other requirements. You also had to visit the bank branch to withdraw and process transactions.

3. No access to alternative payment options

Most freelance platforms like Fiver often ask freelancers to link wallets for their payments. In developed countries, there are many alternative foreign wallets you can take advantage of, like Paypal, Venmo, or Payoneer. However, there are restrictions for Africans living in African countries. Many freelancers have complained about losing some of their money to these payment options due to unforeseen account closures or frozen accounts. 

4. Limited financial records

As a freelancer or remote worker, there’s a need to manage finances constantly. And while it’s possible to scan financial records for cash inflow, tracking foreign exchange transactions and withdrawals is a little complicated. Many used popular bureau de change services, which can be hard to track because you usually get a physical receipt. Those who use a domiciliary account mean physically going to a bank to request an account statement.

The Role of African Fintech Startups in Cross-Border Payments

Africans can now join the global workforce and earn what they are worth – foreign currencies or not. This is because African fintech startups ensure that cross-border transactions are seamless. So, these companies focus on making it easy for money to move around locally and internationally. 

There’s also the previous issue of accessible foreign exchange. The alternative was to use a domiciliary account with a traditional bank. However, the currency restrictions, opening requirements, and high withdrawal charges didn’t make it an easy option. There’s also the constant need to visit the nearest bank branch to carry out transactions physically.                                                               

So far, with innovative solutions, we’ve seen a rise in easier foreign transactions, exchanges to local currencies, payments, savings, and even investments. Companies also have partnerships to provide these solutions to a broader set of Africans. A recent one is the Grey and Cellulant partnership. 

Grey X Celluant Partnership for African Talent

In May 2022, Grey – a fintech startup, partnered with Cellulant to provide international payments services across East Africa. Since this announcement, Grey has been able to provide foreign bank accounts, instant currency exchange, and international money transfers to Kenyan residents. 

Thousand of Kenyan freelancers and remote workers can now access foreign remote work opportunities without worrying about how they’ll get paid. There’s no need to open multiple apps to receive or convert foreign payments to Kenyan Shillings. 

You can make and receive international payments in Kenya by creating a Grey foreign account. Get paid in your preferred foreign currency (GBP, EUR, or USD) and withdraw directly to your M-Pesa at competitive rates. Sign up for free here to get started. Grey is also available on mobile so you can access your accounts and transactions faster. Download it on Google Play or the iOS App Store.


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