Robo investment advisor taking off in Uganda

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Online investment advisory platform XENO has launched in Uganda, using artificial intelligence to help people plan, save, and invest their money in a diversified investment portfolio.

Launched to market in October 2017, the XENO platform takes into account a user’s personal circumstances, financial goals, and risk tolerance, to automatically put together a recommended investment portfolio.

The startup also offers the additional services of an in-house team of investment professionals to execute the user’s chosen strategy.

XENO claims its risk profiling and portfolio-compiling algorithm is one of the first of its kind in Africa; and says it directly responds to the increasingly asked question in Africa of how to best invest.

“The idea is to help answer the question “How should I invest my money?” This is nearly what every person who earns a living asks their colleagues at work, friends, sisters, brothers, parents, etc. It is a difficult question to answer because everyone’s circumstances differ,” says Aéko Ongodia, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of XENO.

“XENO was built to answer this question by helping people plan, save, and invest their money in a diversified investment portfolio effortlessly, regardless of account size.”

The minimum investment required on the platform is UGX400,000 (US$110), and the algorithm is based on a goal-based investment approach, where a user invests for a particular goal.

“It forces certain healthy habits like being deliberate about the kind of risks and investments that people get into. This is because all recommendations are based on a person’s risk tolerance,” Ongodia says.

XENO aims to provide a full service, also providing a dashboard via which users can monitor their portfolios.

Security is key, and the startup uses bank-level encryption technology to secure user data, and requires new users to undergo a rigorous know-your-customer (KYC) process.

“Most people neither have the training nor the experience to provide investment advice and make investment decisions. There’s therefore a need for professional investment guidance and execution,” says Ongodia.

“Investment decisions have profound consequences for millions of families that are planning for retirement, education, health, etc. all of which occur at some point in the future. XENO provides professional guidance and execution to both individual and institutional investors.”

Since launching in October, XENO has registered 382 users, investing towards 416 financial goals.  The team is currently working on addressing the “substantial” knowledge gap in the market, to help boost onboarding.

The startup initially bootstrapped before taking on a small (undisclosed) angel investment, and XENO is now looking to raise external funding to enable East African expansion.

“Overall, we’re exceedingly happy to pioneer a robo-advisor in Africa targeted for the masses.”

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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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