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FEATURE PayConnect: Revolutionizing Digital Payment Space Through Interoperable Solutions Tala’s Five Years of Expanding Financial Access in Kenya

OPINION Hiring for Culture Fit as You Grow



The Porsche Cayenne Review


Playing With Orphaned Infant Elephants At The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust


Aspira MD Yoeal Haile discusses how the lender is financing lifestyles through a revolutionary point of sale fintech solution September 2019

5th Annual

2-4 September 2019 Radisson Blu, Nairobi

HOW TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING THE FUTURE OF PAYMENTS, BANKING, FINTECH & INSURTECH Conference and exhibition featuring over 150 speakers and 90 exhibitors showcasing the latest technology solutions for the payments, banking, fintech & insurtech industry.


Chris Colbert

Bitange Ndemo

George Odhiambo

Baseer Mohammed

Yilebes Addis

Managing Director

Chairman, Blockchain & Artificial Intelligence Taskforce

Managing Director



KCB Bank Rwanda Rwanda

I&M Bank Tanzania Tanzania

Ethswitch Ethiopia

Harvard Innovation Lab USA

Government of Kenya Kenya

Herbert Olowo

Theobald Sabi

Robin Bairstow

Melaku Kebede

Jean Claude Gaga


Managing Director

Managing Director, I&M

Chief Executive Officer

Stanbic Bank Uganda

National Bank of Commerce Tanzania

Bank Rwanda Rwanda

Senior Deputy CEO – Strategy & Technology United Bank S.C Ethiopia

RSwitch Ltd Rwanda





Sio mkopo tu, ni Kustawisha BIASHARA

September 2019



10 PayConnect: Revolutionizing Digital Payment Space Through Interoperable Solutions

12 Tala’s Five Years of Expanding Financial Access in Kenya


36 The Porsche Cayenne Review September 2019

Playing With Orphaned Infant Elephants At The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust





Contents 10

Digital Payments Processing


Musoni’s Mobile Technology Driving Financial Inclusion to Kenya’s Smallholder Farmers

PayConnect: Revolutionizing Digital Payment Space Through Interoperable Solutions 12

Instant Digital Loans


My Hustle Building Africa’s Powerful Logistics Platform





Aspira MD Yoeal Haile discusses how the lender is financing lifestyles through a revolutionary point of sale fintech solution.

Human Capital Hiring for Culture Fit as You Grow

Cover Story


Youth & Agriculture How to Engage and Retain Youth in Agricultural Activities

Interview Alistair Benn Explains why MHH International is the Most Preferred Car Importer In the Region

ICT New Innovations in Financial IT Opening Opportunities for Finance Decision-Makers in Africa

Tala’s Five Years of Expanding Financial Access in Kenya 14


Coffee Break

36. 38. 40. 41. 32.

Motors Travel and Leisure Book Review Pictorial Song Review

September 2019


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A Sure Bet to Keep Africa Moving Forward

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Build Your Dream House in Only 21 Days

> Interview; Andrey Yakunin Understanding the hospitality market in Russia

>Travel & Leisure What to Know about the Marine Parks at the Coastal Kenya

The Driving Force To a Successful Family Business Esther Muchemi, CEO and Founder, Samchi Group of Companies

January 2018 I

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Starting Up


Being Grounded - How Can a Leader Deal with Conflicts? more stupid! The worst thing one can do is engage a thought with emotion, as this is what brings that situation into reality. That therefore takes us to the next step:

Shalini Gadhia Leaders often face conflicts or disagreements with our superiors or team members. It is often tempting to make hasty decisions or find quick solutions. It may however pay off not to respond in the spur of the moment but to gather yourself before responding or reacting in any way. Below are some things that can be done in case any kind of conflict arises. Since leaders are expected to take responsibility, the below tips are useful in most situations. 1.Work on your thoughts and emotions We all work under tremendous pressure and tend to get triggered when our colleagues don’t perform as expected. In this case it may prove difficult to control our thoughts and emotions towards them. We are likely to think ‘does he not know his job’, ‘I told him clearly how to do it’ ‘how stupid can he be’ Well guess what, this only makes your colleague

2.Take time out Most team leaders tend to draw conclusions and start looking for the next best solution to the problem. We most probably think - you know what, I will just do this by myself. Hang in there! You cannot operate without your team as you cannot do it ALL by yourself. In this case, the best thing is not to continue the conversation at that point, take a few minutes off and then resume (this can depend on the urgency of the matter, take a few minutes if a resolution is needed immediately otherwise consider tackling it the next day if it can wait). When you take time out, consider taking a walk while you take deep breathes (a minimum of three in and three out are recommended to calm your nerves), if you don’t have a place to walk, sit in solitude for a few minutes and practice this breathing. You will feel much better after this. Taking time out helps the mind to clear which in turn paves way for reasonable solutions and idea to come into the mind. You may notice that you feel creative/ get new ideas in your mind when you are relaxed. This is the concept that applies here. Tak-

ing time out helps to 1) Clear emotions 2) Allows the mind to have space to think about the next best thing to do. 3.Communicate with your staff Communication is often confused with talking. It is a two way process that entails both speaking and listening. Hence take the time to listen and understand what your staff have to say about the situation. Separate yourselves from the problem by stepping out mentally and work on the best solutions. Also always remember, it’s not you against your team, but it’s you all as a team against the challenge or problem. In addition, It may be important to note that ‘there is ALWAYS a solution, no matter what! 4.Daily practices As a leader, to ensure you achieve maximum results, it is important to ensure you have daily practices that help you achieve what you desire. This could include activities like daily physical exercise, meditation / mindfulness and reading. These help you keep grounded, focussed and also enable you balance emotions, thus avoiding any unwanted or regrettable actions &/or response(s). Shalini is a marketing professional with 10 years of work experience across various industries.

September 2019


StartUp Stories

Letters to the editor “However, I was advised very early in my career to not let others despise me for my youth; instead I ensure my work speaks for itself and in doing so, have garnered respect for my work ethic, my execution, and my leadership.”

Teresa Mbagaya, Co-Founder, Bidii Children Foundation, ZIMBABWEAN-KENYAN Currently a principal at Omidya Network, she was previously Microsoft’s education lead in East and South Africa. She has been credited to led the implementation of learning solutions across ten countries, impacting millions through initiatives centered on digital education.

She is the co-founder of Bidii Children Foundation-a non-profit that funds tuition support for students in Kenya. She is a graduate of political science from Yale University and has been listed by Forbes as 30 most promising young entrepreneurs in Africa.

Digital lending Digital lending has taken shape in Kenya with a raft of players in the market. The country’s infrastructure, disposable income and high appetite for consumer goods has forced many people to opt for instant lending apps to finance their lifestyles and other needs. While, this is the case, there are several players who charge exorbitant fees and use unorthodox methods in debt collection. They ought to be stopped. I trust the launch of Digital Lenders Association will play its role well. Concerned Kenyan Via email.

Kudos StartUp

“Women are capable of being part of the tech world and actually be successful in that field”

I’m totally impressed, first by the look and setup of your online edition The type is large, legible and uninterrupted by ads. There are no pop-up ads so the pages load very fast. The content is interesting and varied. I’ll definitely be reading this. Others should take lessons here. Joseph Wegesa Via Facebook

Catherine Mahugu, founder of Soko KENYAN Mahugu is the founder of Soko, an e-commerce platform that allows jewelers to sell their wares to customers directly across the world. She describes herself as a seasoned changemakers, techpreneur and a youth empowerment advocate. The young and sassy entrepreneur wears many hats. She is also the founder of Wazidata, an innovative

company that advances human experience by creating innovative offerings using design thinking methods and is credited to have worked with UNHCR and Safaricom. A software engineer by profession, Catherine Mahugu has been recognized locally and globally for her entrepreneurial efforts including Business Daily’s Top 40 Under 40 women, Forbes 30 under 30 2016 and BBC 100 Women among others.

“One thing that I have seen in business books is the advice to do large feasibility studies or to appoint professional consultants to do feasibility studies. My thought process is that the best feasibility study is the one that I as an entrepreneur would do myself.” Hasnain Noorani, CEO, Pride Group KENYAN Hasnain Noorani is believed to have inherited a small driving school from and car hire business from his father. He is widely credited to have expanded that business to what is known as the Pride Group.

Working synergy I am impressed by your team’s working synergy which can be well felt by the product you churn out. You guys are doing a great job at StartUp. I love the digital platform as well. Daisy Nyaga Entrepreneur, Nairobi

HAVE YOUR SAY ONLINE PrideGROUP, a Kenyan-based conglomerate invested in diverse sectors, including hospitality, the travel industry, transport and energy.

The editor welcomes reader’s opinions but deserves the right to edit them for publication. Please email to More comments are published online about news stories published on September 2019



News Sanlam Kenya bounces back to profit

revamped distribution strategy and other sales and marketing initiatives. This focus has seen us enjoy a growth in core insurance revenues by 17% to KShs 3.65 billion up from KShs 3.11 billion reported over the same period last year, despite an increasingly competitive market environment,” said Tumbo. The growth, he added, was also attributed to an improved investment performance and the positive impact of a revision in the statutory interest rate risk margin.

Sanlam Kenya Group Chief Financial Officer Kevin Mworia, Group CEO Patrick Tumbo and Acting Sanlam General Insurance CEO Caroline Laichena.

turnaround from last year’s KShs 1.5 billion after-tax loss.

Financial services firm Sanlam Kenya, has bounced back to profitability, confirming the viability of its turnaround strategy.

Speaking when he announced the firm’s half-year earnings for 2019, Sanlam Kenya Group Chief Executive Officer Patrick Tumbo explained that deliberate efforts to re-orient the Group’s business growth strategy were beginning to pay off.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) listed firm has returned a KShs 639.7 million after-tax profit for the six-month period ending June 2019, a complete

“At Sanlam Kenya, we have been focusing on the growth of our core insurance business through strategic partnerships, human capital investment,

The Group’s total income derived from net earned premiums, investment and miscellaneous income improved by 84% to KShs 4.6 billion from KShs 2.5 billion last year. Investments on the other hand reported impressive market value gains on Sanlam’s equity and treasury bond portfolios raising the non-insurance incomes to KShs 1.9 billion compared to KShs 41 million over the same period last year. While crediting the firm’s accelerated growth to the support and dedication of its staff, sales agency network, intermediaries and other strategic partners, Tumbo said Sanlam Kenya remains focused on providing an excellent customer experience. Tumbo said that efforts to recover the Group’s impaired assets amounting to more than KShs 2.2 billion from institutions under financial distress, are still ongoing and remain a top priority for the business this year.

September 2019



PayConnect: Revolutionizing Digital Payment Space Through Interoperable Solutions Words Oroni Tendera


n the past few years, Kenya has witnessed a tremendous paradigm shift towards digital payment, thanks to the emergence of FinTechs. However, a big gap loomed on the way to a completely cashless reality, lack of interoperability. This informed the formation of PayConnect in 2016. “Digital channels are not new in Kenya. All commercial banks have a mobile banking/agency solution. To carve out a niche for ourselves in the industry, we focused on developing solutions that are interoperable and can serve several institutions or even cross- border subsidiaries”, reveals Hussein Dida, CEO of PayConnect during an interview with StartUp Magazine. According to the executive, the firm operates with two models when selling out solutions. “The outright purchase model where the institution pays for the license as well as the annual maintenance fee and the Revenue share model that requires the client to pay for the installation cost but not license fee.” “Revenue share model works well for institutions that do not want to tie their September 2019

Hussein Dida, CEO PAYCONNECT capital but would prefer to have a joint venture with us. We provide the solution and they bring clients on board,” he adds. Competitive edge PayConnect runs agency banking applications that work on android devices, a major change from traditional applications currently used by most FinTechs that strictly work on POS devices. This shift, he says; has lowered the cost of rolling out their solutions. PayConnect has also been in the lime-

light for pioneering the use of a nationwide biometric system in South Sudan in partnership with development agencies. “Our biometric solution is user-friendly with de-duplication check.” “We own our IPs meaning we do not sell third party IPs. Our solutions are futuristic, scalable and modular,” adds Mr. Dida. Asked how they enhance security of their systems, the youthful CEO says, “We are keen on hiring competent and professional staff members who safeguard our integrity. Furthermore, all our solutions



are cloud-based and the mobile devices used to access our apps at the organization level are tied to IMEI numbers thus improving security.”

patience and creativity. “You need patience. You have to develop innovative systems that will give your clients a competitive edge.”

Despite PayConnect’s success in the market, the CEO admits that they have had their own share of challenges. The company was established on the eve of an election year. “This was a bad timing,” he observed, “institutions were not investing in systems and the economy was at standstill. We had to survive until the economy accelerated.’’ He, however; reveals that this did not break them. “We took advantage of the slow market to mature our systems and make them stable as well as scalable.”

He also points out reliability as a key ingredient for the success of any FinTech company. “Reliability and stability of our system gives our clients a competitive edge.”

Successful fintech Drawing from his immense professional experience in business development, marketing and IT, Mr. Dida believes that managing a FinTech company demands

After- sale service is another pertinent issue that he thinks will steer the growth of any FinTech firm, “You must always be available to offer clients support at any moment. At PayConnect, we do not have public holidays. We are available 24/7 to offer support to our clients,” he says. Moving forward Mr. Dida foresees a movement towards face recognition and IRIS as a form of identification. “We are focusing on this

technology to remain ahead of our competitors,” he says. He also envisions setting up an innovation hub within the firm and steering a team that will be developing Artificial intelligence and other futuristic solutions. “This will place us at the centre of new innovations,” he expresses his optimism. “With emergence of small fintech players, we see a lot of demand in terms of technology from our clients while the budgets keep on shrinking,” he observes. However, that does not spell doom for the future. To stay ahead, “clients need to invest in the right technology that will work for them for at least 5 years. They should also focus on the technical aspect, the problems it can solve and the competitive advantage it will offer them besides pricing,” he concludes.

About Us We are a financial technology payments enabler, offering an advanced, integrated, multi-channel platform. The Solutions Our technology is device and service provider independent with scalable interoperable functionalities. Biometric Identification and validation. Interoperable Mobile Banking. Interoperable Agency Banking Integration Engine & Switching of Transactions. Produce Management System. SMS Alerts and Notification. Chama solution for Investment Groups.

We Offer Interoperable Digital Payment Solutions

Why Us Modular and Scalable Solutions. Interoperability. Advance Intergration Capabilities.



Device Independent Solutions.

Woodlands Road, Woodlands Office Park, 1st Floor, Kilimani, Nairobi, Kenya


Transanctional/Licensed Based Options.

Tel. +254 – 795 716 928 Email.


P. O. Box 50241 – 00100, GPO, Nairobi, Kenya.


September 2019



Tala’s Five Years of Expanding Financial Access in Kenya


ala is a mobile technology and data science company that delivers instant credit via smartphone to underserved people in emerging markets. It has a mission is to expand financial access, choice and control for 3 billion people globally. The app that uses alternative data to score customers in real-time, without a need for formal credit history. Anyone with an Android smartphone in the market can apply for a loan and receive an instant decision. It provides fast, personalized loans to approved borrowers and help customers establish their financial identities over time. In the following interview with StartUp Magazine, Ivan Mbowa, Tala’s Regional Growth Manager talks of its progresses, successes, innovations and an oversight of what to expect in the years ahead. What was your mission at the outset? Our mission is to expand financial access, choice and control for 3+ billion people globally. How can your solutions be accessed? When a customer downloads our Android app from google play store, he or she fills out a simple application while our models analyze their phone data to determine creditworthiness. If approved, the customer receives their loan offer in September 2019

Ivan Mbowa, Regional Growth Manager ing, or email. TALA just a few minutes. The offer is customized based on their score. Once a customer accepts our credit offer, the loan is disbursed to their mobile wallet in under five minutes in markets like Kenya where mobile rails are prevalent. In cash-based markets like the Philippines, customers typically receive their loan within 1 business day and have a choice of disbursement channel including a cash payout. Customer service is handled digitally, through social media, in-app messag-

What areas of interest do you target with your financial solutions? We're focused on helping the emerging middle class – largely underserved populations that are nonetheless leading creditworthy lives outside of the formal economic sector. Often they are small business owners or salaried workers who, despite some financial stability, still don't have access to quality credit, savings, insurance, or payments products. Why do you think you are best suited to serve the regional market? Being Pioneers as non-bank lenders,

13 our mission is the key driver in building our strategy that in effect places us in the forefront of providing financial access, choice and control, not only in the region but to the underserved. This involves: ·We are committed to building – not moving fast and breaking things. ·What that means practically is that we take a long view of our business. We know sustainability is key and so we work to ensure that our customer base is healthy and growing with us over time. ·We also invest in a lot of effort – such as research and industry engagement – outside of the product. ·We are a founding member of Kenya's first digital lender's association – in partnership with 12 other lenders, we are trying to self-regulate and set an example for the industry. We are committed to understanding and measuring our impact and engage in annual impact studies with our in-house research team. We also work with third parties on additional research that enhances our product offerings. A good example of this is our work with CFSI (now the Financial Health Network) to develop a financial health score for developing populations. They had done this for the developed world, but not for emerging economies. What major milestones have you achieved so far? 5 years of operations in Kenya Total fundraising to date - more than $200M (Currently just Raised our Series D $110M) Total origination - $1 billion Total customers - 4 million

Being Pioneers as non-bank lenders, our mission is the key driver in building our strategy that in effect places us in the forefront of providing financial access, choice and control, not only in the region but to the underserved.

Tala is now five years old. What does this mean for you? Your clients and the industry? There still is the opportunity to serve the underserved and for us we continue with the journey of innovation and building of products that will provide financial inclusion. Beyond that we are so proud to partner with such incredible, diverse customers in their financial journeys as they seek to achieve their set out dreams and goals. As part of our 5-year celebrations, we will be launching a Tala community with free online courses to help our users connect and learn. Have you faced any unique challenges in your course of operation? If so, how have you mitigated them? Like any startup with a novel idea, Tala faced the challenge of trying to prove that this revolutionary model of providing credit to individuals based on alternative smartphone data was viable. We mitigated this challenge by continuously iterating our data science models and radically trusting our clients with increasing credit limits until we reached our current milestones such as a 90% repayment rate and over $1 billion disbursed in Kenya and beyond. From your experience, what would you say are the key ingredients of running a successful fin-tech firm? I believe that the combination of a relentless customer-first attitude and the


inspiring challenge associated with trying to create a financial ecosystem to serve the global emerging middle class has helped us attract the world’s best talent that ultimately drives our success. What would you say has been the greatest impact of your financial solutions? We published our first ever impact study that found that Tala’s loans have been key in helping people smooth their income and expenses to create more financial stability, with 70% of entrepreneurs using Tala to help keep their businesses running through periods of uncertain income. The study also found that Tala provides clear and immediate emotional relief with nearly 8/10 respondents indicating increased relief or happiness about their financial situation after taking a Tala loan, including after repaying their loan. Studies have shown that people under stress tend to make poorer financial decisions, so this is an important testament to our impact. We are preparing to undertake and measure more impact across our markets this year What are your plans in the foreseeable future? Tala has been able to position itself as the largest non-bank fintech in the market and we are always researching ways to meet more of our customers' financial needs and have some exciting pilots on the horizon. To help our customers grow in all aspects of their financial lives, we are now providing free in-app financial education. We hope to continue innovating and serving clients so that we can grow our market share as we bring our mission to increase financial access and improve financial health to life. September 2019



Building Africa’s Powerful Logistics Platform

Obi Ozor, the CEO and Co-founder of Kobo360, an Uber-like app that connect truckers to cargo owners


rowing up as a young boy in a farming village in Enugu, I started a logistics business at the local truck park. The challenges I faced then, as a teenage business owner, were still the same challenges SMEs & large enterprises were facing in 2016. I knew something had to be done. You find middlemen who charge exorbitant unaccountable fees to transport cargo but cannot provide accurate tracking information when asked. Goods arrive at their destinations in terrible shape or sometimes go missing. Not to mention the stress truck drivers go through waiting to load the cargo September 2019

at the ports or the danger faced while transporting said goods. Transport + Logistics across Africa has been in a poor state for some time. Kobo360 was launched to address this. Was it ever going to be an easy task? You know the answer. No. Do we think we are the best people to effect continent-wide change? Yes. And here’s why. Since 2017, Ife Oyedele II and I wanted to help solve the logistics problems SMEs and large companies faced in Nigeria. With lead times of up to two weeks to deliver cargo, we knew we had to do something about the inefficiencies in the

supply chain and increase productivity. With that in mind, Kobo360 was born. Our tech-enabled full truckload offering enables the development of an efficient supply chain for end-to-end long-haul freight operations, connecting and supporting cargo owners, truck owners & drivers, and cargo recipients. Since launching, we’ve moved over 500Mkg of goods, aggregated a fleet of over 10,000 drivers and trucks, and serviced over thousands of SMEs and 80 large enterprises such as Dangote Group, DHL, Unilever, Olam, African Industries, Flour Mills of Nigeria, and

15 Lafarge. We’re disrupting third-party logistics by handling the movement of goods, tracking, warehousing, sales and accounting. From start to finish, we are supporting our customers and making logistics work for them. We are two years in; we want more of the same, at scale, across the continent. We are excited to think where we will be in ten years’ time. After making substantial inroads into Nigeria, covering 80% of the country, we’ve set our foot on key strategic trade hubs in Western and Eastern Africa, with a mission to build a Global Logistics Operating System [G-LOS] powering trade and commerce across Africa and emerging markets. Today, we also have a presence in Togo, Ghana and Kenya. The company was started with SMEs in the forefront of our mind, however as the years have passed, we’ve grown to heavily depend on our drivers more than we may have originally realised. Without them, there would be no Kobo360. We will continue to ensure they are trained to use our mobile-enabled technology that is adapted to several local languages. The results have been positive; they have been able to convey goods quicker and seamlessly and earn 40% more than the industry average due to reduced downtimes. We are training, supporting and paying an army of drivers, in their tens of thousands, who are securing their own financial futures through our driver-empowerment programs, KoboWIN and KoboCare. Today, I am proud to announce that Kobo360 has completed a $30M fund raise; a $20M Series A equity round and $10M in local currency working capital financing secured by Nigerian commercial banks. This powers us to meet the hugely ambitious goals that we have set ourselves. Importantly, we are also welcoming Goldman Sachs, who led this round, and Asia Africa Investment &


Consulting to the Kobo360 family. They join our existing investors TLcom Capital, Y Combinator and the International Finance Corporation. Over the last two years, we have built a reputation for delighting our customers and improving the working lives and careers of thousands of drivers across the continent. This capital enables us to do more by building out our driver workforce, develop our technology offering, accelerate supply growth and scale quickly, to power the recently launched Africa Free Trade Continental Agreement [AfCFTA] that is expected to catalyse intra-African trade. With the support of thousands of SMEs and large enterprises, drivers and the Kobo360 team across our locations, and with African countries opening up to trade through the AfCFTA agreement, we are powering commerce in Africa – in every sense. We want to join forces with all the players operating in the logistics sector – which brings me to my next point: •We are on the hunt for phenomenal ‘Ninjas’ and ‘Rock Stars’ to join us on this journey as we build a Global Logistics Operating System [G-LOS]. •If you’re a business having issues with supply chain, our door is always open. •And the same goes for all the fleet owners who seek 100% asset utilisation and supply chain service providers; we are here to partner with you. •And for the potential service providers to the supply chain ecosystem, come to us – let’s partner up and deliver value to the industry.

PG. 17

INTERVIEW Alistair Benn Explains why MHH International is the Most Preferred Car Importer In the Region

PG. 20

COVER STORY Aspira MD Yoeal Haile discusses how the lender is financing lifestyles through a revolutionary point of sale fintech solution

PG. 24

MICRO-FINANCE Musoni’s Mobile Technology Driving Financial Inclusion to Kenya’s Smallholder Farmers

September 2019


Alistair Benn Explains why MHH International is the Most Preferred Car Importer In the Region Words Rowan Benn


Alistair Benn has been in the motor Industry since 2002. He kick-started his career by selling Japanese cars in the UK. For the past ten years, they have built a strong reputation in Kenya with high levels of customer satisfaction. In the following exclusive interview with StartUp Magazine, he proudly talks about his company adding genuine value for every client and surpassing their expectations. Give us an insight into MHH Internation- September 2019

al and its mandate. At the onset, we noticed people were too scared to buy from the UK. For the first 4 years in Kenya, we ran seminars and training sessions educating people on importing safely with our company and the concept of saving 20% VAT. This made it possible for people who previously had only bought from Japan to buy from the UK as well. We strive to make the customer experience better than it ever has been and to give each customer a faster and safer



our assets. Guiding and explaining the process to the customer at the beginning is fundamental. Expecting a customer to send millions of shillings outside the country and then wait for a car to arrive requires a huge amount of faith. Our ability to give customers confidence that their money is going to be safe and the car will be of the highest quality has made this possible. The moment of truth for the customer comes 2 months after sending their payment. So it is vital we maintain the relationship with our customers throughout this time. They need to feel constantly informed on the progress of their car and the timings.

Alistair Benn, MD MHH INTERNATIONAL way of sending their money overseas. Our reputation is anchored on honesty and reliability in a trade which is fraught with risk. This trust is the foundation of successful importation since there is no structured used- car market. That trust allows us to deliver the value. Who are your target clients? Our services are suitable for clients with a budget in excess of 2.5Million Shillings. This is where we can provide a meaningful saving to clients that can reach in excess of 5 Million shillings for a Range Rover or a Toyota Land Cruiser. The introduction of asset finance on imports has allowed many people to buy a car import with just a 20% deposit. This has made importing accessible to many working professionals and not just the elite. Tell us about your relationship with customers and how you guide them in the process of buying quality cars. Our warm relationship with customers coupled with first-rate customer care are

It is important to say that we strive to constantly get better at keeping our customers up-to-date at every stage of the import process. We’re looking at how technology can help us deliver this. What major milestones can you point out to? The first major milestone was the realisation that people did not want to have the main dealer experience because they didn’t appreciate the hard sell. We discovered people preferred a more personal service from a smaller team. Coupled with that, was the understanding that there was an export market crying out for genuine reputable suppliers. We simply needed to prove that UK cars were significantly cheaper, of great quality and their money was safe with us. The second major milestone was inventing asset finance for imports. We recognized that importing was only for clients who could buy a car in full with cash and none of the Kenyan banks were offering asset finance to cars which were overseas. So, we set up partnerships with Chase Bank, NIC CBA and I&M. Each bank now allows clients to buy their car from the UK, Japan or Australia via MHH International and repay their loan over 4-5 years in the normal way. We will continue to drive this and make it more accessible to Kenyan customers.

The third major milestone was introducing Japanese cars to our clients. 3 years on from launching import finance, we realised there is need to allow clients to buy Japanese cars as well as UK cars. In 2016 we started to import cars from Japan to Kenya which completed our offering. Recently, we introduced cars from Australia too, to make sure our clients can buy the best car brands from across the world. From your experience, what would you say are the impacts of your services across the region? I think that it must be giving customers the confidence to spend significant amounts of money from overseas without having to deal with a relative in the sourcing country. We have heard many stories of high net-worth individuals driving cars that are significantly older than you would imagine. Their reason was that they did not want to spend the money on a brand-new car or risk sending vast amounts of money overseas. So, they chose to do neither, even though it was not consistent with their general wealth and lifestyle. We have found over time people are increasingly willing to buy higher value import cars. I feel this is a combination of our clean reputation and the collaboration of leading banks with MHH, making it safer in the customer’s eyes. I can also see that the market is trying to get better and improve quality of the cars. We have also seen other exporters from Japan partnering with local Kenyan banks to offer Asset Finance but I haven’t had sufficient feedback as to whether those partnerships have been successful. On a practical level, what should customers consider when importing vehicles from overseas? The first , is to make sure that the person they’re choosing to import with is a genuine exporter with a good reputation. Look for genuine first-hand recommendations or proper online reviews. >> September 2019

18 because it’s just not what we are used to. That, however; doesn’t mean the mileage is false.


The truth is, everybody has a perspective which shapes their needs. Our job is to keep listening to our customers’ experiences, have answers to help them and match the right car with their needs. Which emerging trends do you see in vehicle purchasing/importation and their impacts on the economy?

NIC Launch Signing with Alan Dodd Ensure that you get comprehensive information about the car. It is very easy for dealers overseas not to share Japanese auction sheets or inspection notes which tell you critical information such as the condition of the tyres and avoid unexpected costs. Customers also need to understand the need for transparency on the tax costs associated to the car when it arrives in Kenya. Depending on the car, duties could range from 300,000 shillings to 11 million shillings. Therefore, knowing this in advance is imperative. Finally, a customer should understand what is included in the quoted price. We often hear stories where customers were given ‘a firm price’ which turned out to be an estimate of costs. Customers then find out about additional port charges, transport to Nairobi and insurance. Each of these requires the customer to dip into their pockets to cover costs they were not expecting to pay. At MHH we strive to alleviate all the risks associated with importing of cars. This is September 2019

why we work on one complete quote for our clients to include all the costs and mitigate them from unforeseen costs. We also include a warranty, giving the customer peace of mind for the first few months of motoring.

The current average age of cars in Kenya is 15 years old. As importation increases, the quality of the total car pool in Kenya improves and the average age of cars on the road should reduce. CO2 emissions should also reduce as better technologies become more widespread. This improves the health and driving safety for everyone. I think it was beneficial to customers that the import level was not reduced to 5 years as this was about to make importing less affordable to a significant number of Kenyans. It will be interesting to see if the move to hybrid and electric takes off as it has in other parts of the world. This will drastically reduce pollution levels. How do you see your business evolving?

What are some of the misconceptions around vehicle purchasing and importation? We are often told that all cars from the UK are rusty. We also hear that cars with low mileage from Japan must have had their mileage clocked. On the other hand, South African cars are said to be in very poor condition. Everyone has their own specific experiences but many of these are untrue. We have seen cars from the UK that have rust underneath. This is much less common nowadays because the quality of the alloy metal used has improved. Sometimes we encounter Japanese cars with questionable mileage but at the same time we see many cars from Japan with extremely low mileages. We question why somebody would even own a car for 6 years and only do 3000 KM

Our aim is to become synonymous with importation of the highest quality cars in Kenya. We have a great sales and customer service team within our Kenyan and the UK offices. We envision making asset finance for imports more accessible via our bank partnerships with NIC, CBA and I&M. We will continue to find the best value cars for our clients whether they import from the UK, Japan Australia or beyond. We are excited to test a new business model in the UK involving buying Japanese cars to stock. Once it turns out successful, we intend to roll it out in Kenya.



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Yoeal Haile , MD ASPIRA September 2019



ASPIRA: HOW A KENYAN STARTUP IS CHANGING THE WAY CONSUMERS SHOP Aspira MD Yoeal Haile discusses how the lender is financing lifestyles through a revolutionary point of sale fintech solution

Words Sylvester Okumu


arious researchers have identified that access to the Internet would be critical in the development of Kenya and a key driver for innovation. With the country’s increased broadband penetration driven by improved infrastructure, mobile penetration now covers almost 90 per cent of the population. Simultaneously, as disposable incomes of Kenyans increased, so did the appetite for these consumers to spend on products that improve their lifestyles. Household income has been growing by 5% yearly within the last few years, driving greater demand for middle class goods and credit to finance them. This revolution has created an ideal environment for the development of innovative financing solutions like Aspira. Founded in 2018, the product-financing platform enables clients to make purchases from selected retail stores across the country and pay later in monthly instalments. “We conducted extensive market research and realized that there is a huge gap in the credit market that was not

being addressed by any other financial institutions. Many consumers cannot afford to purchase essential commodities like smart phones, TVs or furniture because of their limited financial capabilities,” says Yoeal Haile, Managing Director of Aspira. He believes that his firm can transform and uplift the lives and livelihoods of many Kenyans by enabling them to acquire items they need to complement their lifestyles. “There’s a need for responsible and affordable access to financing. There is no escaping the fact that this market was clearly underserved compared to other similar economies globally,” he says. “We fill the gap left by traditional and mainstream financial players, in that we provide purchasing power to consumers in a wide range of low and middle income brackets. We provide a convenient source of medium term credit for small and rapidly growing enterprises which cannot qualify for any sources of capital. Lastly, we also provide a market for retailers who would have otherwise struggled to sell their wares through other credit models,” says Yoeal. The Aspira team spent a year designing

their tech platforms, understanding Kenyan consumer purchasing behaviours and the challenges faced by retailers, before they became operational and lent to their first customer. The Aspira product was developed using Agile principles and will continue to evolve through analysis of customer data and feedback. He further says that Aspira’s decision to venture into the credit industry was motivated by the challenges that continue to dog the important sector. “A lot of Kenyans increasingly have the desire to acquire goods and services that can complement their lifestyles. However, a lot of micro lenders are only focused on lending smaller amounts that are repaid within a period of one or two months. This is quite limiting because there is bigger need for access to longer duration loans to allow consumers to finance product acquisitions, education loans, and housing construction materials among other products,” he explains. Aspira is committed to building an innovative technology-driven ecosystem not only around its products but in its operations as a whole. This approach to their business model allows them to have a wide reach in terms of customer>> September 2019

22 base while maintaining affordable interest rates as they’ve been able to limit their overheads. They provide credit of anywhere from 10,000 to 500,000 KES to customers that can be used at any of their 55 retail partners in Nairobi and Mombasa. “We understand that part of the key elements that define standard of living in developing markets is the price of common commodities. Once we finance individuals to acquire these commodities we have answered a pressing need and helped in uplifting their standards of living.” A year after they launched, their services have been well received in the market, demonstrating that the sector needed such an intervention. “A client can download Aspira App on android and iOS devices and apply for a product he wants. He will then follow prompts and fill a response form, after which he will be notified whether he qualifies for the item or not. If he does, then he will take the product home. He then pays the amount in monthly installments, which are determined by his income,” explains the executive. Implementing fair lending practices is a big responsibility, he says. “We only lend within your limits to avoid putting a strain on your finances.” After downloading the app, the firm looks at varied data points to score a client accordingly. “We are commoditizing data as means of guiding financial decisions. When you look at Credit Reference Bureaus, you realise the immense data in their custody which help analyze spending patterns of our customers, their risks and score them accordingly,” he explains. Mobile phones, television sets and furniture are some of the leading products purchased by the firm’s clients. Besides these items, the firm also finances travel, building material, and recently began financing motorcycles through a partnership with Car & General. September 2019

“We understand that part of the key elements that define standard of living in developing markets is the price of common commodities. Once we finance individuals to acquire these commodities we have answered a pressing need and helped in uplifting their standards of living.”

“Many people are looking to build homes but they often fall short of finances. That is why we introduced financing for construction materials to enable individuals to build their dream homes. We are also looking to finance education among other products in the near future,” explains the young executive. Unique credit model •We did a lot of research to build a product that is meant to address the pressing needs of the market. We piloted the program for a year before we fully

launched and the reception was incredible. •We are very clear and direct with our customers in terms of the loan terms. We value transparency and there are no hidden costs. •Our interest rates are competitively priced, charged on a monthly basis. •We leverage AI to drive our customers to repurchase from us, leading to over 90% of our customers making repurchases within 3 months of completing their previous loan obligation Impacts As a young CEO, Yoeal has interacted with many retailers and customers to understand their plight. Other than providing customers with a means to acquire goods they need, Aspira has enabled retailers with a new avenue to increase their sales. “We have done major sales for many retailers compared to other models of financing in their stores. In just our first few months of operation, we were able to do more credit sales at some of our large retail partners than banks were able to achieve over the past several years at the same partners” he says.



“We built a product focused on things that mass market consumers care about and weren’t being addressed by other solutions in the market: price, product selection, convenience, affordability.” he adds. Aspira recently ventured into financing motorcycles, which is one of the most sought after items that consumers are seeking to purchase on finance. “Through our partnership with Car & General, we are essentially enabling individuals with the working capital to start their own microbusinesses. Many of these consumers rent motorcycles for use as taxis, often referred to as bodabodas locally. Through Aspira, these drivers are able to pay similar daily installments to own the motorcycles after a year as opposed to continuing to rent over time.” The use of technology has enabled the firm to automate its processes and get access to many clients beside its physical touch points. The use of data analytics has also guided them to make responsible financial decisions and confidence to lend. “We are able to minimize fraud, operate cost-effectively and extend the same benefits to clients in terms of competitive interest rates. Our cashless and paperless business model allows us to approve customers within 2 minutes and scale up our loan book without growing our team significantly” says Yoeal.

Some of Aspira staff members at their Westlands office in Nairobi trends like the use of AI to better understand their clients and guide credit decisioning.” Other than embracing technology, Aspira believes in building people and helping them to deliver their best. At their Westlands offices, most of their staff is young, radiating with enthusiasm and passion. “You can only grow as an organization with a great team and by creating an innovative working culture where every member of the team strives to ensure each and every one of our clients has a great experience using our services” says Yoeal.

Of Eritrean descent, the son of refugees who migrated to the United States in the 80’s, Haile grew up in a lower middle income environment in New York where he observed that, for his family, financing was crucial in gaining access to amenities such as furniture and household appliances. An engineer by training, he says he ventured into the industry out of passion. Now at the helm of the fledgling firm, he’s optimistic that the company will continue to innovate to make a difference in the society.

The startup, which has grown tenfold over the past year, is looking to automate most of its back office operations and enhance the quality and speed of its services. Aspira has recently set up a presence in Mombasa and aims to continue to grow its retail base beyond the 55 retailers currently onboard, in order to be able to reach a wider customer base. Traditional credit institutions must embrace technology in order to survive. Yoeal says that Aspira is agile and dynamic to market needs. “Many companies are now investing in emerging

Aspira agents September 2019



Musoni’s Mobile Technology Driving Financial Inclusion to Kenya’s Smallholder Farmers

Stanley Munyao, CEO MUSONI KENYA

Words Benedict Were


Musoni is an innovative, cashless, paperless and data driven microfinance institution that leverages on technology to bring financial inclusion to the underserved population. The institution is globally recognized for September 2019

key achievements such as being the first Microfinance Institution (MFI) in the world to go 100 per cent mobile, enabling clients to deposit their savings and repay their loans through their mobile wallets, the first MFI in East and Central Africa to receive an ISO certification popularly known as Smart Certification in recognition of the institution’s adherence and

25 commitment to observing client protection principles and standards promoted by the Smart Campaign. It was also the first MFI in Kenya to introduce Digital Field Applications (DFA) for client registration and credit underwriting. Musoni’s mandate is derived from its social mission which is, “To promote financial inclusion through provision of financial products that support sustainable livelihood among the rural micro-entrepreneurs and smallholder farmers in Kenya.” In the following interview with StartUp Magazine, Stanley Munyao, CEO of Musoni in Kenya muses about its aim is to empower women, the youth and smallholder farmers by offering products and services that meet their needs, and many more. What was your mission at the onset? Our Mission was and still remains to grow, build and maximize the potential of the business of the low income and the unbanked of Kenya through the provision of affordable, flexible and customer-oriented financial services. This has been achieved through innovative approaches in product design and partnerships that have helped us reach out to the financially marginalized population with life changing financial solutions as a means of ensuring long-term relations with our clients, employees and stakeholders. How can your solutions be accessed? Our products can be accessed through our interactive digital platform that allows clients to register and apply for loans through our USSD code *646# and the Musoni App in Google Play Store. Our systems support client’s self-registration and by reason of leveraging on technology; turn- around time


for loan processing is sometimes less than 24hrs and a maximum of 72hrs. What areas of interest do you target with your financial solutions? We target micro, small and medium enterprises as well as small holder farmers with solutions that meet their needs through a unique mix of products ranging from Group Lending, Individual Lending, Green Solutions and Education Loans among others. Based on the strong focus on achieving a triple bottom line, Musoni has a keen focus on reaching out to women, youth and rural inhabitants. The green solu-

Musoni’s mandate is derived from its social mission which is, “To promote financial inclusion through provision of financial products that support sustainable livelihood among the rural micro-entrepreneurs and smallholder farmers in Kenya.”

tions are incorporated into our portfolio to ensure the institution is not left out in contributing towards environmental conservation too. Why do you think you are the best to serve the regional market? We have successfully digitized traditional microfinance processes such as client registration, loan underwriting and processing, disbursement, repayment and management to enhance efficiency in delivery of services. For that reason, we have placed ourselves in a perfect position to reach out to the underserved in the region. This not only reduces op-

erational costs but also enhances client experience and boosts business growth by tapping into the unreached markets in Sub-Saharan Africa. What major milestones have you achieved so far? As mentioned earlier, Musoni enjoys several global recognitions. The Smart Certification in particular, was no mean achievement since it involved major adjustments in terms of how the institution conducts business with its clients. This was informed by the board and management’s decision to move from working on an assumption that the interests of its clients were protected to putting structures and systems in place to ensure the interests of the clients are fully protected. Musoni has 35 branches across the country, 49,000 clients with an average loan size of Ksh. 37,500. Our breadth of outreach stands at 63 per cent of female, 50 per cent youth clients, and 48 per cent rural penetration, with 20 per cent clients living below the poverty line. Our products and services have positively impacted more than 470,000 lives as well as helped in environmental conservation. Have you faced any unique challenges in the cause of your operation? If so, how have you mitigated them? Challenges are not only part of life but part of business as well and Musoni is no exception. Like any institution that has a triple bottom focus, there must be a paradigm shift that calls for change in institutional culture. Changing the mindset of staff to embrace the social performance call as a lending institution has not been easy because it involves changing how they handle clients. More specifically, one of the Client Protection Principles calls for ‘Fair and Re->> September 2019



A female small-holder farmer in rural Kenya spectful Treatment of Clients’ especially in the event of default. For a sector that is largely known to use very harsh recovery measure; adopting a relatively lenient Standard Arrear Management system was misinterpreted as a frustrating business which has proven not to be the case. In the same strength, having to turn down investors whose mission did not align to our social goals has not been easy either. This is majorly because promotion of social impact in financial institutions is a new concept in this market. It takes a unique balance between being profit driven without compromising the well-being of clients. Having supportive stakeholders and board members who believe in the institution’s social mission and who understand that getting the balance right takes time, guarded us against mission drift. To ensure employees understand and embrace changes and new September 2019

opments in the institution, we had to invest heavily on continuous training and development for all staff. From your experience, what would you say are the key ingredients of running a successful fin-tech firm? Like any business, Fin-techs must understand their mission, the needs of their clients, develop products that meet those needs, protect the interest of their clients, have the right team to drive their business and know their competitors very well to avoid being swallowed by the sharks. What would you say has been the greatest impact by your financial solutions? Musoni’s greatest impact has been trusting on the poor with our credits. Hearing clients share stories of how their lives have been transformed after receiving credit from Musoni to grow their businesses, take their children to school, pay hospital bills and how they spend less on money cooking and lighting because of

green energy solutions, among others is very fulfilling and confirms that indeed our products and services have a social impact. What are your plans in the foreseeable future? I plan to make Musoni a regional household name and a one stop shop for all the financial needs of the underserved populations. Other pertinent issue? Sustainable Finance is only possible if institutions protect the interest of their clients, the communities they serve and the environments they operate in. As such, I urge every player in the micro lending sector, regulators, investors, microfinance institutions, Cooperatives, SACCOs and NGOs to make Client Protection and Social Performance a priority in their operations. Otherwise we will have no people to lend to because of dented sector image, lack of client confidence and destroyed environment.


September 2019


New Innovations in Financial IT Opening Opportunities for Finance Decision-Makers in Africa



Farouk is a Regional Senior Director – East and West Africa Applications Sales Leader at Oracle September 2019


ew innovations in financial IT solutions are opening several opportunities for finance decision-makers in Africa. But realising the full value of these innovations will require leadership and vision.

and over 27 million subscribers across Africa. This represents an important milestone for the continent and demonstrates the importance that innovations can have not only on financial systems but on the broader society.

Earlier this year, the financial platform service M-Pesa announced that it has more than 20.5 million active users

Still, with the advent of AI, blockchain, and big data analytics, businesses are faced with an even broader array of innovations that will disrupt existing busi-

29 ness models and potentially open previously unforeseen opportunities. The impact that these technologies will have on finance departments and decision-makers in organisations across the region is profound, and finance leaders will come under mounting pressure to come up with a vision of how best to realise the value of these innovations within their respective organisations. Modernising finance with today’s technology M-Pesa launched more than 10 years ago, when smartphones and smart devices were not very prominent and the speed of technological advancement was not as rapid as it is now. Today, businesses are turning to a wide spectrum of innovations, such as cloud technology, to enable much faster, reliable, and scalable implementations of IT applications and are increasingly relying on big data analytics, AI, and blockchain capabilities embedded within the applications they are running in the cloud. Kenya and Nigeria are leading the way in East and West Africa when it comes to leveraging emerging technologies to drive innovation, while countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Ghana are following a similar path as they pursue their own digital transformation journeys.


And this progress is not restricted only to banking and financial institutions, with organisations across a broad spectrum of industries now using advanced technologies and intelligent ERP applications to automate their finance processes and operations. The high tax delinquency rate in Kenya, prompted the Kenya Revenue Authority to restructure the organisation to reduce the burden of compliance. By embracing cloud-based solutions and social media, the entity saw the average response time for taxpayer requests improve from several weeks to approximately 30 minutes. CFOs are under tremendous pressure to align with different business units while

Today, businesses are turning to a wide spectrum of innovations, such as cloud technology, to enable much faster, reliable, and scalable implementations of IT applications and are increasingly relying on big data analytics, AI, and blockchain capabilities embedded within the applications they are running in the cloud.

providing the required strategic and financial guidance. And given the proliferation of advanced and scalable business applications, much of the modern CFO’s focus is on automating mundane tasks so they can free up bandwidth and become more involved in strategic engagements that help the organisation to achieve its goals. Evolving responsibilities of CFOs Technology represents a great opportunity to expand financial services, and CFOs have a major role to play in defining the strategy and business direction of their organisations. Indeed, finance is one of the core business units of any

organisation given its role in managing capital and cash flow, developing strategies around profit planning and cost controls, and ensuring the organisation’s ability to meet its financial goals. In a recent study conducted by the International Data Corporation (IDC) in East and West Africa, 26% of the respondents identified the CFO as having an important role to play in supporting their organisations’ overall digital transformation initiatives(1). In line with this, the responsibility for driving innovation is increasingly being shared by CFOs, whereas previously this was considered the preserve of CEOs and CIOs. Creating a better digital solution Organisations across East and West Africa are gradually speeding up their digital transformation efforts, with more and more businesses across Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Ghana leveraging technology to disrupt their markets, particularly in the banking and financial sector. In East Africa, three large banks have migrated most of their transactions from traditional branch solutions to digital channels. In turn, this enables CFOs and CIOs to remain focused on driving internal change through more innovative value propositions. The growing number of FinTech companies and start-ups operating in the region are bringing innovative solutions and new use cases to the fore. Consequently, businesses are increasingly leveraging innovative digital applications and achieving better business results with an improved customer experience. It is for these reasons that technology and innovation are poised to have an immense influence on the finance operations of tomorrow. September 2019



How to Engage and Retain Youth in Agricultural Activities



Njeru is a Livelihood and Value Chains Finance Expert at Microsave International (MSC).

hen I was a young boy growing up in rural Kenya, farm work was punishment—be it at school, digging the farm if you had pending homework or at home, picking coffee and tea while it rained. With these experiences, nothing would have motivated me to choose a course that is related, in any way, to agriculture. That, however, changed along the way. That is not who I am today. In many developing countries, agriculture and allied courses and professions have been “orphaned”. Usually, students who join public universities can choose such “archaic” agricultural courses that are available usually with lower qualifying grades. The media has not helped September 2019

either. The negative imagery of emaciated farm families, reports of unpaid farmers, and devastating post-harvest management, such as rotting cereals and fruit dominate the media’s agricultural coverage. All these have negatively affected the youth’s perception of agriculture. The African Union’s Malabo Declaration, which set agriculture goals for 2025, works to create job opportunities for at least 30% of youth in agricultural value chains across the continent. However, investments that support skills, knowledge, employment, and finance for young people are still lacking—especially in rural areas. Data from the Population Reference



Bureau in 2018 projects that the population of Sub-Saharan Africa will more than double by 2050. Africa’s youth population, currently at 20%, will rise to 35% of the total youth in the world by 2050. Studies have shown that agricultural growth in Sub-Saharan Africa has a greater positive impact on reducing poverty compared to growth in other sectors. Hence, tapping into the reservoir of employment opportunities in agriculture is indispensable for poverty reduction.

other hand, consider agricultural jobs painstaking and unrewarding. These jobs also require a lot of patience that the millennials lack as pointed out by a Leeds University study: Millennial impatience and the rise of next day delivery. Several youth agri-initiatives have been developed to address this gap but many have failed to achieve the desired results. This begs the question—how can we attract, engage, and retain youth in the field of agriculture?

Why does agriculture not attract youth? Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa is the main source of income and subsistence for over 70% of the adult population. The sector supports more than 40% of the total employed population in the region. Despite the potential of agriculture to create employment, the steadily incresing youth population in Africa has been turning away from it due to the hard work, poor remuneration, and other negative factors associated with it. Youth unemployment rates in South Africa are almost four times higher than the regional average—62% of South Africans between 15 and 35 years of age are unemployed. Of them, 60% have never been employed.

Can digitization bridge the divide between youth and agriculture? The average age of an African farmer is between 45 and 60 years. Even though the farmers are attached to their traditions and quite reluctant to change, they are not immune to the technology revolution. Just like the banking industry where mobile money technologies have become pervasive despite the old banking system, agriculture must follow suit. Digital innovations and the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) will prove essential to unlocking Africa’s agri-business and bridge the rural divide. This will help smallholder and family farmers, fishers, pastoralists, and forest-dwellers.

Sub-Saharan Africa has a huge potential with 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land. Yet it spends USD 25 billion annually on food imports. A comparison of Africa with other continents highlights that the difference lies in its low adoption of technology. If this divide is crossed, Sub-Saharan Africa could produce enough food for its own population and even become a net exporter of food.

According to the World Bank’s report “Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness”, Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to more capital, increased access to electricity, better technology, and irrigated land, among other things. The agribusiness logistics sector is essential to agricultural transformation through value-chain development. ICT will be pivotal to provide efficient agribusiness logistics and to link producers and final consumers almost instantaneously. The emerging Agriculture Technology (AgTech) start-ups>>

Youth inclusion, engagement, and most importantly, retention in the agriculture sector are hot topics. The international community has raised this concern and national governments have spoken on the issue repeatedly. The youth, on the

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September 2019

have demonstrated this—and in the process, attracted youth to provide best practices, agricultural networking, and linking to finance. However, the AgTechs will need to work closely with experienced organizations in the low and middle-income segment, especially smallholder households, to tailor solutions for the market as demonstrated by MSC. According to a blog by CGAP on promoting digital financial products among the youth, behavior segmentation and data analytics are critical to understanding the variance between predicted users and actual users of digital products among youth. However, MSC’s blog on digital credit clients cautions that most youth will juggle between lenders. In Kenya for example, the Central Bank (CBK) estimates that over 500,000 people listed on credit reference bureau (CRB) for owing less than USD 2 are youth between 18 to 24 years. They were listed on the CRB after taking a small loan to use it for gambling, after which they lost the bet and failed to pay the amount back. Financial access to youth Financial Service Providers (FSPs) continue to shy away from financing youth, terming the group risky. Banks across Sub-Saharan Africa still provide “vanilla” products that are delivered through the brick-and-mortar approach. This is compounded by the banks’ limited understanding of the financing opportunities along agricultural value chains. The difference in aspirations of the FSPs and the youth has increased the exclusion of youth from the agriculture finance continuum. Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP)’s financial diaries and national surveys with smallholder households indicate that young people in rural areas save two to five times as much as their September 2019

elders. These savings were four to five times the amount they borrowed from different sources. The statistics highlight that youth can and should be involved in transforming agriculture. Research in Behavioral Economics is essential to design and implement solutions to improve services and job opportunities for these segments. MSC’s proficiency in behavioral, gender-centric, and market-sensitive program design helps us develop products and channels that cater to the specific needs of women and youth. We have a long history of working on financial and skill development services for the youth. MSC has developed a wide range of savings and credit products tailored and targeted specifically for a range of youth segments—from schoolchildren to those in their twenties. We conduct market assessments on opportunities for youth

employment. We also develop and deliver training programs that support employability and technical skills for both youth and women. Case studies of youth engagement in agriculture MSC helped Musoni Microfinance, Kenya to review its agriculture finance product and introduce digital credit assessment for clients. Musoni is a microfinance institution (MFI) that utilizes ICT to increase the efficiency of service delivery for rural clients. It has successfully targeted rural youth through products and services delivered through technology. Musoni’s agricultural finance product— Kilimo Booster—is a success in targeting youth engaged in agricultural production. A client who owns a dairy farm in rural Kenya attested this. In Tanzania, the Alliance for Green Rev-



olution in Africa (AGRA) provided a USD 540,000 grant to SELF Microfinance Fund (SELF) to develop digitally delivered products for smallholder farmers. MSC helped the Mahanje SACCO located in the Ruvuma region to review its loan products to suit the needs of targeted rural clients. Members of the SACCO can now access credit, repay, and save using their mobile phones. The convenience and privacy of transactions created by digitization attracted about 300 new clients, which represents a 14% growth rate in the 18-month project period alone. Out of these, 120 (40%) were aged between 18 and 25 years. MSC provided technical support to the Land and Investment for Future Transformation (DAI-LIFT Ethiopia) project between 2016 and 2019. The project worked to accelerate access to finance smallholder farmers through seven MFIs. As of June 2019, 12,098 loans worth USD 12.5 million have been disbursed and USD 1.1 million in depos-




its mobilized. The project has reached vulnerable groups through the Gender, Equality, and Social Inclusion (GESI) pillar. About 30% of the loans are directed to the GESI group that includes youth. About 400 land rental service providers have also been employed, with almost 60% of them aged 18–25 So, how do we attract and retain youth in agricultural activities? Digital technology and digital financial services have the potential to bring youth closer to the agricultural sector. The players in the ecosystem focused on promoting agriculture needs to deliberately create an attractive and enabling environment for youth through: •Sustainable market linkages between rural young farmers and urban markets through e-commerce or m-commerce platforms, such as the Agrocenta in Ghana, 2Kuze and SokoNect in Kenya; •Integrate various actors and activities

across value chains and create meaningful employment for youth; •Adopt digital platforms that offer an opportunity for embedded social services that could compensate for the lack of financial and non-financial services and provide social protection, such as platforms that offer embedded unemployment insurance or health insurance; Specialization in service provision—information, data and, value chain linkages; •Special support to build value addition, capacity-building, and idea incubations; •Efficiency in agriculture value chains that will spur growth in the trade margins and returns and thus encourage youth to engage fully in the sector; •Work with FSPs to develop financial tools and products that facilitate access to finance for agriculture-related activities by youth; •Position the youth in risk management mechanisms among smallholder farmers and agri-businesses, along selected agriculture value chains.

Your professional salary advance partners Requirements

*Salaried employee *3 Months pay-slip *3 Months bank statement *1 Passport photo *Postdated cheque

Who we are

KopaCent Africa 7th Flr, Krishna Center Westlands Nairobi, Kenya +254 724539933 +254 715725325

KopaCent Is a Fintech company using technology and leveraging on mobile money to offer employees affordable salary advances. We are more flexible than mainstream lenders and we deliver requested advances in record time. We are committed to responsible lending and strive to keep things simple convenient and transparent. We have no hidden charges or registration charges. At KopaCent we are constantly working to make accessing money easier for salaried employees. We are here to help you prosper

September 2019



Hiring for Culture Fit as You Grow


Hiring for culture fit as you grow: Game of Thrones lessons.

Karimi is a co-founder and partner at edge which supports innovative entrepreneurs across East Africa in building high-performing teams for business growth through recruitment and designing great workplaces. September 2019


or the sake of all GoT fans out there (If you are not a fan, you are probably already fed up with the unfamiliar spoilers and endless chit chats in your office lately): All factors held constant, regarding the script changes, the unlikely surprises and twists and the drama we anticipate that we are not getting, what really does it take to conceptualize and create a show that makes working professionals wake up at 4 am to stream live? Because they just can’t live with the anxiousness of not knowing? Can we take a moment of silence to admire the minds who dream of creating movements that inspire generations across the world? It’s the same

spirit we see in groundbreaking movies, politicians, music artists and so on. And yet sometimes this spirit may not always be replicable or sustainable as a show grows, as an artist evolves, as the interests of the consumers evolve. Why? Now think about your company, what would it take to build a workplace that staff can call their 2nd home? And actually mean it? A place of shared values, enthusiasm and aspirations? A place where your staff can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow? And how do you make sure that each and every new member of this movement adds value and aligns with the same spirit? And when things evolve you all evolve together?


Hiring for culture as your company grows is probably going to be one of the toughest team battles you’ve encountered yet. Without caution, the temptation to compromise hoping to develop the missing values in the future in exchange for rising business demands slowly becomes your daily choice. And before you know it, everyone is asking; ‘What happened to this place?’’ ‘’We used to love working here back then’’. So what can you do to ensure every single new hire is a gem to the team? Build a strong value based recruiting process. Your culture is defined by the key values that need to be lived every second for business success. Do you know what these are? If not here is a cheat sheet. It’s ok if your list has 20, now narrow it down to the 5 main ones that your business needs to thrive then inculcate this in your hiring process. Some best practices out there: •Assess for culture fit/values at application stage! You can share your values deck at application stage and ask candidates to clearly illustrate how they have lived these values in their past working experiences. We did this once, and believe me or not, some candidates innovated their own values, did not bother to read the deck! •Run value based interviews. Here you want to assess how candidates engage with your values. How do they connect these to business outcomes? What personal challenges do they foresee in them living those values? What will hold them back? What about these values spark their curiosity? Listen for depth and breadth in everything. The

Your culture is defined by the key values that need to be lived every second for business success.

higher the level of introspection and engagement the closer you are to the right fit. •Cross check with your background checks. Does your background checklist of topics include how the candidate has lived certain values? You know what to do. Also, ask for concrete examples! Your management team breathes and lives your values. If you can get this right, you are halfway there. As you grow, your managers become your default employer brand ambassadors, thus staying aligned is key. Some ideas: •Monthly chats revolving around topics such as – how have you been living XYZ value this month? What was challenging about this value? You will be surprised how these conversations can be a foundation for deep team conversations, learning from each other and even evolving and re-defining your values as business evolves. •Every opportunity matters! Something not going well with the team? What about that could be pointing out to your value system? Use every moment to bring your management team back to the big picture of your values and why they matter for business.


reviews. Spend half a day talking about your company culture, what is changing for good and for worse. Then, iterate! •Use Reward and Recognition to acknowledge individuals who have demonstrated certain values in the most significant ways. •Define your management team spirit and brand. How do you want the world out there to speak of your management team? Are your values ingrained in there? Decentralize hiring – now this is CRUCIAL! First, it’s necessary. If you are hiring frequently and in high numbers, your HR and managers are obviously overwhelmed, and right there is a significant loophole. If your whole team including junior staff has already been having enough culture and value conversations, then they are quite accurate on what it takes to thrive in your organization. How about you consider building an internal hiring team that truly understands your culture? They could be from any department and they fully understand your culture fit criteria. Plug them in as key players and informants in the recruiting process and watch magic happen! In addition, they also get to feel the ownership of growing with you! Why don’t you block some weekly time in your calendar for culture? Try out some of these tips and let us know how it goes. We want to feature your success story in the next blog. And your failure story as well!

•Mid and annual management team September 2019

At the back


The Porsche Cayenne Review Words MHH International-A Prestige Car Importer The Porsche Cayenne is a powerful, luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) produced by the German car maker and now in its third generation. Renowned for its power and sports car pedigree, Porsche is now extending the Cayenne family to include an e-hybrid plug-in variant plus an even sportier version; the Cayenne Coupé.

hours in total climate control comfort that includes both seat cooling and heating.

The Car Lighter and faster the third-generation Cayenne has aged gracefully. Porsche are not a company to be radically altering the looks of the vehicles; they evolve over time. The slimmer ‘coupé’ style model, might appeal if the chunky muscular regular Cayenne doesn’t. Regardless of that and the fact that some other super-car brands have released their own SUV models, this car remains the best driving SUV on the market.

The Cayenne is a big SUV so there is plenty of legroom for all. As standard, the rear seats that can slide forward and backwards to prioritise rear space or boot capacity. Passengers can also vary the angle of the backrest to improve comfort, while the seat splits in three parts. The boot is spacious and more than able to swallow the family luggage although those buyers who choose the Hybrid option will lose around 100 litres of space thanks to the battery pack. Not a big deal of itself but important perhaps if there’s a lot to carry.

The Cabin Leather, naturally, is the upholstery of choice. Being a Porsche, the attention to detail is unequalled. The seats for example come with all manner of electrical adjustments. Couple this with a steering wheel that also offers plenty of settings and not even the tallest person will have any problems getting settled into the comfortable, supportive seats. In hot or cold weather this car can be driven for September 2019

All the major controls are ergonomically designed and feature at the heart of the dashboard a giant 12.3in touchscreen and infotainment centre. The screen is superb with crisp, responsive graphics.

The Drive The Porsche Cayenne is based heavily on the iconic 911 sports car and the latest model offers rear-axle steering for the first time, as found on the magnificent GT3-RS. In addition to these typical sports car features, the on-road capabilities are further improved by active all-wheel drive as standard, air suspension and Porsche’s own Dynamic Chas-

sis Control electronic roll stabilisation system. In short, this big SUV handles almost as well as the 911 from which it derives its styling. On the latest model drive is through a new eight-speed Tiptronic S gearbox which offers shorter response times and sportier ratios to enhance both on-road performance and off-road capability. For quiet cruising, the long eighth gear ensures low torque, optimised fuel consumption and relaxed driving. At the top, and naturally the most expensive, level there’s a crazy 542bhp V8 with a 0-62mph time of just 3.9 seconds. This in a car weighing two tonnes. In this version the driver will soon discover there is simply not enough road available to match the performance. For buyers who prefer more sedate progress, there’s a selection of engines, all sprightly enough in their own right, plus of course the Hybrid. As previously mentioned, the Porsche Cayenne is possibly the best SUV currently available. Prices vary depending upon the model choice. Here at MHH International this is one of our most popular export cars. Please contact the team for more details.


September 2019


At the back

Travel & Leisure

Playing With Orphaned Infant Elephants At The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Words Oroni Tendera Sandwiched between the KWS staff quarters and the Nairobi national park, is the little known Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a safe haven for rescued orphaned infant elephants. “Our mission is to save elephants from us humans,” says the chief ranger as he September 2019

ers us into the orphanage. We position ourselves around an open field, the size of a basketball pitch; cameras rolling and clicking. The chief ranger walks to the middle of the field and snaps his fingers. Reacting from the cue, six young elephants emerge from a nearby bush, running. They surround him. “These orphans are very fragile and must be watched closely at all times. The keep-

ers protect them with blankets when it is cold. Right now we are going to feed them on human baby formula milk,” he says. Six keepers dressed in long green jackets and white gumboots emerge from the bush holding feeding bottles. They stand strategically, adjacent to the chief ranger and the calves. Gently, the six calves



walk to the six rangers. Each calf seems to know its keeper. As they suckle milk from the huge bottles, they rest their trunks on the neck, face and armpits of their respective feeders. “The keepers remain with the orphans 24 hours a day, providing round-the clock care, milk on demand, and plenty of love and guidance just as a mother elephant would in the wild. Baby elephants have a super-sharp memory. That’s why they all remember their keepers,” explains the chief ranger. The feeding program takes about ten minutes. Satisfied to their fill, the calves roll themselves on the muddy ground, playing with twigs and kicking rubber balls and stones joyfully. “Baby elephants duplicate children in so many ways. They have unlimited access to nature’s toys, such as sticks and stones and play things such as rubber tubes. You are free to touch them as they move close to you,” announces the ranger. True to his words, two calves begin to walk towards us. I step forward as other tourists back off with fear. I outstretch my two hands and rub their rough dusty backs. One of them, a bull, drops a twig that he has been holding with his trunk and walks away. “Bulls are more independent than females. The one standing next to you is a female calf called Zawadi,” he says. Zawadi has two huge scars on her back, a clear indicator of her troubled past. I later learn that she found refuge in Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in January 2019. She was reported wandering alone within community land and following herders with their livestock in Maasai Mara, presumably in desperate need of company. Sadly, the community had fired two arrows into her. The KWS team located her, looking weak and in dire need of medical attention. They tended her wound before getting her to an airstrip for transfer to the nursery. Zawadi bids me farewell by raising her

trunk in the air then joins her friends. One naughty bull kicks a bucket full of water, emptying its content. As if celebrating the mess that he has done, he rumbles and trumpets loudly. “Just like human children, naughty elephant calves are taught acceptable behavior. This is meted cautiously through a chastising tone of voice and accusatory wagging of a finger. It is essential to show forgiveness so that the calf understands it was scolded for a momentary wrong doing.” The calves are led back to the bush by their keepers. “Right now the calves are close to their keepers but as they get older, they begin to fraternize more with other elephants,” he explains. “How long does it take for an orphaned elephant to be reintegrated to the wild?” I ask.

“Each orphan decides when to make the transition into a wild herd. This is influenced by the age at which the calf was orphaned, their unique personality and the friends they have made,” he responds. “Once introduced to the wild, do the orphans remember giving their keepers surprise visits?” Asks a middle-aged Indian lady. “They visit from time to time; share their wild-born babies with us, confident that their human family will always be there for them. I also urge you to protect these endangered species by speaking out against poaching and ivory trade in your respective countries,” he speaks with finality. I realize it is already noon, time to leave. Sheldrick Wildlife Trust hosts tourists daily (including public holidays) from 11am to 12noon at a fee of Ksh 500. September 2019


Coffee Break

Book Review

The 7 Day Startup You Don’t Learn Until You Launch Author: Dan Norris From generating ideas to gaining your first paying customers, The 7 Day Startup is the bootstrapper’s bible for launching your next product. In it, you will learn: 1. Why validation isn’t the answer 2. How to evaluate your business idea 3. How to choose a business name, fast 4. How to build a website in 1 day for under $100 5. 10 proven ways to market a business quickly And much, much more. “People who say there’s nothing to learn from failure don’t see the big picture. Dan was literally 2 weeks away from insolvency and ready to look for a 9-5 job when he stumbled upon an amazing, yet simple discovery. It doesn’t take months to launch a new (and profitable) business. In fact, it might be better if you didn’t spend very much time at all. If you’ve struggled in the past to launch a About the Blog

Blog Review

Founder: Dharmesh Shah Compiled by: Oroni Tendera September 2019

You might have heard of Dharmesh Shah in various circles but if not, he’s pretty much an entrepreneurial genius. He co-founded Hubspot and has since been involved in the successful development of many, many, many new businesses. He formed to specifically tackle problems and advice for the unique needs of the startup community but the advice extends to all growing small businesses. About the Author Dharmesh is a software entrepreneur and currently the co-founder and CTO of HubSpot, a software company building a revolutionary software platform for Internet Marketing . HubSpot is his third software startup. Prior to founding HubSpot, he founded

Reviewer: Google Books profitable business and are tired of reading stories about founders who swung for the fences and succeeded, then you need to listen to Dan’s story. Dan founded WP Curve and launched it from scratch in just 7 days, turning it into a successful seven figure business. This isn’t a puffball story. Dan’s journey is common for most of us. Swing and miss. You start to feel like a failure, but listen to what Dan has to say.You’ll see that much of what you thought about building a startup simply isn’t true. Through Dan, you’ll quickly see that launching a profitable startup doesn’t have to take years, or even months. It can be done in just 7 days.” -- Mike Taber, author of Startups For The Rest Of Us. Pyramid Digital Solutions, an enterprise software company in the financial services sector. Bootstrapped with less than $10,000 in capital, Pyramid went on to demonstrate exceptional growth and was a three-time recipient of the Inc. 500 award. After acting as CEO and chief software architect for the company from 19942005, he helped the company get acquired in August 2005 by SunGard Business Systems, a large $11 billion technology company. Since the sale of Pyramid, he has been an active member of the entrepreneurial community in the Boston area and have made several angel investments in early-stage technology companies. He is also a current member of CommonAngels, a well known angel investment group in the greater Boston area.



Top Octagon Africa Group C.E.O, Mr Fred Waswa, RBA C.E.O, Mr Mutuku Nzomo and Octagon Africa MD, Mr. Godwin Simba celebrating after unveiling MOBIKEZA App Left CEO and Co-Founder SWVL Mostafa Kandil (left) being taken through the app by SWVL General Manager Kenya Shivachi Muleji. The Shuttle transport firm is set for Sh1.5B cash injection in Kenyan Market.

September 2019

At the back

Song Review

The Lion King: The Gift Beyoncé Review by Neil Yeung at September 2019

For the 2019 CGI retelling of Disney’s classic animated film The Lion King, Beyoncé wore multiple crowns for the project, not only voicing the adult Nala but also curating the companion compilation/soundtrack, The Lion King: The Gift. Not to be confused with the reimagined score/soundtrack featuring Hans Zimmer, Tim Rice, Lebo M., Elton John, and Beyoncé herself, The Gift recruits a roster of African talent and American hip-hop/R&B acts to create a buoyant hybrid of futuristic, cross-Atlantic Afro-pop. Like a similar big-screen epic

about a regal feline, this expertly curated collection is an artistic showcase celebrating Africa and black musical traditions, elevating the movie experience with strategic thematic interludes that could help this album endure far longer than the film. Also, like Kendrick Lamar did with Black Panther, Beyoncé is careful not to overshadow the burgeoning talents on display here, inserting herself when appropriate and evenly distributing her own songs throughout the set’s expansive track list.


September 2019

Get the product you want today and pay it off within 12 months. September 2019

Profile for StartUp Magazine East Africa

StartUp Magazine September 2019