A mid the fast spreading myth that Kenyan start-ups are over hyped but less of substance, I have taken it upon myself to dispel this baseless dangerous notion. In the coming days I will review some of the better performing start-ups which are definitely have not been caught up in what I would call the hype cycles. I will also explore some of the reasons behind this myth especially the blind imitation and copying of Silicon Valley by the local VCs. I will also show exactly how the people who are now blaming the hype are the same people who created it or started it in the first place
To start us off is Weza Tele. When they talk about hype and the NGOs money, you will never hear them mention Weza Tele and other start-ups that I will talk about later. Why? That is the big question. Weza Tele for example has done quite well. I am looking at its success based on the number of partnerships which they have entered, the number of people they have employed and the fact that they are generating their own money to carry out their operations. In others words they are in business of doing business. Let me just mention something here, people who are business of doing business are never sexy enough for the hype cycle.
From the Beginning
Weza Tele started their operations from The Nailab Incubation space. Weza Tele was among the first group of Start-ups to be incubated in the Nailab back in 2012. Since then they have grown from two people team to a full organization with over 10 employees. And within that short span of time they have managed to work with several SMEs in many countries across Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria
I like the Weza Tele business model and their thinking, because I think they are doing something that most Kenyan start-ups are not or just ignoring. Regardless of how much funding you get, regardless of how deep you are within the hype cycle, if you don’t sign clients and make sales, one day you will have to close down. In this respect Weza Tele guys are doing three things right, first, they are selling and two they making partnerships and third, they avoided the consumer solutions and went straight to enterprise solutions. The last point is important…..yes very important due to the fact that in Kenya you assured to make money doing enterprise solutions as opposed to those for consumers. During the just concluded Pivot East one of the Fireside chat panelists concluded that both consumers’ solutions and enterprise solutions are good for Kenyan developers. I thought they ignored some of the structural facts about Kenya but that is a story for another day.
Weza Tele started by building mobility solutions for commerce, supply chain, distribution, and mobile payment integration. Their first product Myorder Enterprise solution is a mobile customized solution that facilitates supply chain, circulation and distribution visibility. Talking of visibility, according to past reports, an average of 85% of the small and medium businesses across East Africa have no visibility of their end to end business processes. They rely on manual and traditional processes to track their orders, sales, payments, stock, customers and operations. Weza Tele is working to change this by providing relevant enterprise applications to SMEs in the East African market.
Their second Product in line with helping on the supply chain efficiency is SMS & USSD Services. I know I have said before that the Start-ups should drop developing SMs and USSD solutions and concentrate on smartphone apps, since that is where I believe they would make money from. I still stand with that, but the different I am seeing with Weza Tele Solutions is that they are part of the bigger system within the supply chain. According to Weza Tele Website on the SMS and USSD solutions
“We offer broad experience in developing and supporting solutions that incorporate USSD, SMS and mobile payments in several countries”
Weza Tele latest partnership with Odoo is the most interesting one. Through it, Weza Tele now able to provide Small and Medium Business a very simple and affordable ERP that integrates seamlessly with cross platform mobility tolls including mobile payments such as MPESA, Android sales tools among others. Sometime in life you don’t need to reinvent the wheel and the partnership of Weza Tele and Odoo is living example. From nowhere Weza Tele now offers over 30 ERP applications in the larger East Africa market.
According to Weza Tele Co-founder Hilda Moraa
“Weza Tele can now offer small and medium businesses across East Africa – affordable, simple, flexible and ready to go ERP by choosing from the many modules of Odoo that matches their business needs to ensure they have an end to end solution for their business processes. In return, these small and medium businesses can now efficiently manage, grow and scale their multiple outlets and distribution branches from one central point of view.”
And they are not sitting still. They plan to meet and talk with SMEs through workshops to demonstrates why it is their best interest to adopt Weza Tele applications.
“In the coming months, we plan to hold strategic workshops for small and medium enterprises in Kenya to demonstrate and empower them with Odoo integrated with our simple mobility tools that will give the them visibility of their business processes and products performance in the market”