Most online platforms focus on the social side of media; it’s only a few that encompass other aspects such as financial technology. But Christian Ngabo, a 22-year-old graduate in Computer Science, invented a social media app, Udustars, which not only promotes social interactions, but encourages financial literacy. Udustars is a mixture of a social network and a fintech platform. The social network side gives the ability to chat, post photos and videos, and discover new interests. The fintech side allows users to create a virtual debit card that can be used to make online payments and send money to other users on the platform. “Udustars also promotes financial literacy through articles related to financial education. The reason for mixing the social network and fintech is to build a community platform in which users can learn from each other and grow financially,” he explains. Motivation At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Ngabo says he had so much time on his hands, and wanted to build something that could make a positive impact in his community. That’s when he got the idea of building Udustars. The idea collided with the fact that he has always wanted to build technology that helps people make money online, and provide financial education too. “I was bothered by the fact that most big tech companies make huge sums of money but barely give back to the same people that help them achieve their goals,” he says. As a computer student, he utilised his skills to build everything from scratch. “I did everything alone. I had to teach myself everything, and create everything by myself. I learned to do everything on my own; marketing, graphic designing, customer communication, software programming, and more.” He however had to take coding lessons, “Watching YouTube videos and coding for hours helped me learn so much in a short time. I’m still learning and I get better at it every day,” he continues. The functionalities The platform has three main functionalities; the social network, post monetisation, and the virtual wallet that comes with a virtual debit card. According to him, with the social network feature, you can post, follow and chat with other users. Post monetisation allows users to monetise their posts and make money on post-sales. When a user monetises their content, it’s only visible to those who paid to see it. Other users only see the content preview. This feature can be used to sell creative artwork, digital content, exclusive content, music, and more. The virtual wallet which comes with a virtual Mastercard or Visa debit card is used to facilitate online payments. The virtual card can be used to send money to anyone on Udustars, you can also send money to people who are not on Udustars, he explains. The platform also allows users to use their local payment methods, such as Mobile Money, Banks, or M-Pesa to add money to their virtual card. Ngabo is a young Rwandan who was raised in Rwanda and did his university studies in the U.S, like all young people doing Computer Science, he likes to build ‘cool’ technology that is fun and helpful, but he also faced challenges while embarking on this journey of being a platform owner. “I work on everything by myself, from writing the codes, responding to emails and all questions from users, managing other social media accounts, advertising, and the entire behind the scene work. It has been hard to find a team because of the complexity of the work that needs to be done, but hopefully, soon, I will find a team to work with,” he says.