Turn your business into a technology company (Part 6)

__Applying technology to an old, old idea!

In some parts of West Africa, they call it “susu.” In South Africa they call it a “stokvel.” In Zimbabwe they call it “mukando.”

__A group of people who know and trust each other get together and they form a savings club. They agree to save a certain amount of money every month and each one of them takes turns to receive a large amount of money. It’s a traditional savings and loan idea that’s been around for a very, very long time.

Women in informal markets, in villages, in church groups, do it. Low income workers do it, right across Africa.

People who have tried to estimate how much money circulates in these informal savings schemes believe it’s probably billions of dollars across Africa.

About three years ago, I brought together a small team of smart “coders” and asked them to design a mobile “App” to “re-imagine” this system. The team developed a platform which enabled a group of people to use their “mobile money” service to save their money using this platform, using their phone number as a bank account. We’ve now successfully implemented this idea, and thousands of Savings Clubs are now using it.

The “EcoCash Mukando” platform does not try to do away with this traditional system, but has simply applied technology to make it more efficient and flexible:

# it holds the deposits on behalf of the savings clubs, and what are known as “burial societies.”

# they can earn interest on their money, which they could not do before.

# it’s easier and safer to deposit and move their money.

Since the service was launched in Zimbabwe a few months ago, I have been amazed at how many clubs exist, as each week hundreds of new clubs are joining, and being formed.

Now that we have got the concept working, and generating revenue, our next task is to begin to roll it out in other countries.

A few weeks ago I was having a meeting with a leading international banker in New York, when he suddenly said to me, “Tell me about this banking system your people in Zimbabwe have pioneered. You call it Mukando; what an amazing idea. You guys could mobilize billions in savings!”

I simply smiled, and thought to myself, “Here is a guy in New York, watching something we are doing in Africa.”

I have no doubt in my mind that this is a billion dollar idea.

I have used this example to illustrate a very important point to you:

Some of the greatest opportunities out there do not necessarily involve new inventions or innovations. You can start by observing things around you, some of them basic mundane things. Some of these things are taken for granted, as “the way things are done,” but everything that you can see with your physical eyes, is “subject to change.”

Why can’t you be the person who brings this change by applying a technological innovation to it…

Here’s my challenge: Think about the most mundane activity around you, and “re-imagine it” for the DIGITAL AGE. If you succeed, you’ll be on your way to becoming a billionaire.

One last point: many people tell me they have lots of ideas, but the mobile operators in their country are not willing to partner with them. As much as I’m in this business, let me tell you something: you don’t need them!

Uber, WhatsApp, Twitter, Viber, WeChat, Instagram, Alibaba… none of them went begging mobile operators to partner with them. They just did it.

Come up with strategies that bypass the need to get anyone’s approval or permission, including mine!

You could be the one who changes the world with an idea all others thought impossible. Don’t get left behind.

To be continued. . .

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About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

10 thoughts on “Turn your business into a technology company (Part 6)

  1. brains

    Good day i would like to request that you make it possible for use to be able to download Dr Strive’s blog posts as PDF files, because some times we want to compile them so it becomes a challenge because they are no downloadable. Thanks you so much!

    Reply
  2. Netsai Musiyiwa

    We have greatly benefited frm this ecocash saving system. Thank u Dr Strive for all your innovative ideas. God bless!

    Reply
  3. Lombe Ng'andu

    In Zambia it is called Chilimba, and the women love it … This series has totally transformed my thinking bout ideas.. It won’t be enough just to read n like but put this inspiration to work n move everyday activities to the next technological level… Thank you Sir…

    Reply
  4. Lombe Ng'andu

    Good evening Sir, I would like to express deep gratitude for these priceless seeds you are giving us free of charge, the fruits will definitely been known to many…

    Also lately my Facebook account and the Strive Masiyiwa page havnt been interacting as I cannot like posts offer comments. Please advice as to wat should be corrected(whether I hav been locked out or its just an error) as liking and comments help me keep track of and re-review posts, after thoughts
    and comments. My Facebook name is Lombe Ng’andu AGA.

    Thanks in advance and God bless.

    Reply
  5. Dube Alfonce

    Thanks for the innovative ideas.am a young zimbabwean studying telecommunications and would want to do my own business.financially am at zero,does your company offer any assistance as seed payable afta establishment of the business.would be very grateful to get such assistance.

    Reply
  6. Walter Tendai Hweta

    I always follow Dr Strive Masiyiwa’s post on facebook and twitter thank you sir for sharing your business ideas with us we are now waiting for it in the once mentioned pdf format.

    Reply

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