Understanding business models (Part 2)

__When you see an opportunity, get STARTED! A case study.

I knew it would be the next big thing. It was time to act, and be a “fast follower…”

The product opportunity I saw: Mobile Money. I’d been watching the developments at Kenya’s M-PESA, talking to friends in the industry, reading about it, and had even made a secret visit there to look for myself. I also knew what was happening in other parts of the world, in places like the Philippines and Bangladesh…

First step (to answer one of your questions at the Tanzania Town Hall): Do your homework!

Next step (yes, you’ve heard it before): #People.

I needed a small team of people of highly-motivated entrepreneurial executives. I plucked a guy working for us in Burundi, and asked him to move to Nairobi, the epicenter of this new Mobile Money revolution. He didn’t report to anyone else, except me. Every week he wrote me a report on his observations. Sometimes we would talk for hours on the phone:

“Sir, there are some smart Kenyans I think we can get…”

“Sir, we can get developers from Cape Town. Can I go see them?”

“I have found a guy in Cape Town but he won’t move to Zimbabwe, can I ask HQ to hire him and keep him in Cape Town?”

“Sir, the best platform for us to use is in India. Have made contact. We need to travel to India to see them…”

Months later:

“We have a system up and running in Burundi. It’s small but we’re learning fast…”

“Sir, I have been working with HR’s talent management team. We’re tracking some really smart young people who we think we could recruit and train to run with this. There are also some people in our system who want to try something new…”

__The #People and #Product were coming together nicely.

Next step: #Process.

“We need the ‘Process builders’ to get involved heavily now, because the business plan is looking good!”

“I love it!!”

# Finance systems? Check.
# IT systems? Check.
# Legal systems? Check.
# Marketing? Check.
# Sales? Check.
# Recruitment? Check.
# Distribution? Check.
# Training? Check.
# Logistics? Check.
(What else? You tell me).

“Bring on some really experienced talent for process. You can even use consultants. This business will require complex processes for recruiting and managing dealers.”

“We also have a very sensitive product… Money!”

“Sir, our competitor in (x) is rushing to market with a similar service. What should we do, because we’re not ready?!”

“Neither are they, so stay the course. Don’t cut corners, even if it means they get a year’s head start. We’ll beat the pants off anyone who goes into the market with a half-baked idea.”

__Intense meetings took place every day on getting the #Processes right!

Twelve months later:

“Sir, Burundi is looking great. Can we scale to a bigger market now?”

“Not yet. I need to see more data.”

“Bring your team.”

After listening to them: “What do you want to call this great service of yours?”

“Sir, we were thinking to call it EcoCash.”

“I like it. Go ahead.”

Fast forward 10 years:

The executive who set it up is now one of the most senior members of our organization. He runs our financial services business called Cassava Fintech, based in South Africa. Their operations cover every aspect of Mobile Money including Digital Banking, Payment Systems, Mobile Insurance, Remittances, and eCommerce. They are active throughout Africa, and even in the U.K.

__Another question from our Town Hall meeting this week: “If you feel like you want to give up, what do you do?”

There were times when things broke down completely, and crisis meetings. Sometimes I had to fire people who failed or were not up to scratch. Sometimes people resigned or were poached! We lost so much money in the first two years that some of my more senior executives were actually begging me to shut it down. Yes, we almost shut down EcoCash before it took off!

This year the GSMA (the organization representing Mobile Network Operators from around the world), meeting in Barcelona, Spain named EcoCash the best Mobile Money Solution in the World for 2017!

__How did we do it? We kept our focus on the 3Ps.

If you want to find out more about “People, Process and Product” (and much more) go to Kwesé Inc (channel 405 on Kwesé TV). If you want to learn more about Cassava Fintech, visit the website: http://cassavafintech.com.

To everyone who took part in our Tanzania Entrepreneurship Town Hall (from Tanzania, here on this platform, all over Africa and the world via lifestream on FB) and to our hosts in Tanzania: Thank you. I really enjoyed meeting you and look forward to another one soon.

To be continued. . .

by 13 Replies

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.

13 thoughts on “Understanding business models (Part 2)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    Sometimes you’re the one who invents it, and sometimes you see an opportunity from what someone else is doing. You have to get an understanding through intense research until you know how to innovate, and make it your own. M-PESA was a remarkable idea, but we had to develop our own product even though we were a “fast follower.” And we never stop innovating on our own version of the products.

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    The other day as I watched the German team playing Chile in the Confederation Cup final, I whispered to myself: “Process will trump talent in this game.” The Germans are masters of process in anything they do. They’ve turned the Prep of their World Cup teams into a Process that begins when the players are about five years old! Africa will win the World Cup when we marry process to our extraordinary talent pool. We do extraordinary disservice to the raw talent of our youngsters by our failure to put in place proper Processes that will ensure they are able to compete properly.

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    What are you doing about the next big thing? What are you “seeing”? Driverless cars, the rise of robots, AI, (civilian) drones… These are just some of the things that should be keeping young minds like yours in total hyper-drive, irrespective of your industry.

    • Tapiwa Magondo

      I was just reading your page today- for the first time and i was really inspired. As a young Zimbabwean, i’ve always looked forward to seeing my country prospering and to support this i’ve been doing research on some tech – the latest one being on sound systems. The outcome was my envisioning of the digital speaker which will form the basis of digital sound technology. From my theory work, the speaker will bring the best sound definition ever.
      I’m only 16 and would like to hear from you.

    • Tapiwa Magondo

      I was just reading your page today- for the first time and i was really inspired. As a young Zimbabwean, i’ve always looked forward to seeing my country prospering and to support this i’ve been doing research on some tech – the latest one being on sound systems. The outcome was my envisioning of the digital speaker which will form the basis of digital sound technology. From my theory work, the speaker will bring the best sound definition ever.
      I’m only 16 and would like to hear from you

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Oladayo writes,

    Thank you Sir for these wonderful insight on the 3Ps. We are emphasising more on the importance and strategic management using these informed approach. I love you sir, and as for your Nigeria followers we want the opportunity to work closely with your protocols sir on a town hall meeting in Lagos, Abuja and Portharcourt centered on “youthterprenuer and technovation”. We will be more than happy to have your approval on this. Thank you Sir and God Bless you.

    My reply,
    I have asked my team to look at the logistics to include Nigeria and Ghana when I go to Ivory Coast and Togo.
    Not sure we can do two cities on this occasion.
    I will let you know once we button down the details.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Being able to raise money for a venture is itself a function of the three P’s. Investors and even bankers evaluate the three P’s when making a decision on funding.
    Think about it and give me your thoughts.
    If you have been watching Shark Tank, The Profit and other shows on Kwese Inc, you will get a deeper insight into how each investor looks at these things.

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Mholi writes,

    Sir Strive-Is it a good thing to hijack people’s ideas. It doesn’t feel right, i just dont know.

    My reply,
    There are two types of scenarios that you might describe as “hi jack”; one is not good whilst the other is totally acceptable:
    #1. If someone approaches you for investment and you allow them to think you are going to invest then you go off and do it without them. This is unethical. Unfortunately it happens all the time, and that is why you should never send or submit details of your venture without written “non circumvention”, and “non disclosure agreements”. This is standard business practice and you should not be afraid to ask, it will at least show you know what you are doing!

    #2. Being a “fast follower” of a business that someone else is doing is totally acceptable. However you should be careful not to infringe any IP and copy rights of the party that started (if they exist). Check if a business idea or invention is protected or not, if you decide to fast follow.

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    I urge you to keep going through this post to appreciate certain key principles. If you are wise you will see that I have used the same approach time and time again when launching a new business idea:
    #1. I researched the PRODUCT (or service) intensively. I tried to introduce my own innovations to it.
    #2. I looked for PEOPLE to help me who were extremely talented and experienced.
    #3. I mobilized around PROCESS.
    You have to be methodical in your approach. Allow yourself the room to learn and study on a small scale before expanding rapidly.
    Money comes through PROCESS.

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Allasane writes,

    Ivory coast can not wait to see you ,we are really waiting for you Sir.

    My reply,
    I was in Ivory Coast on Friday and held meetings with the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister. We were discussing the upcoming African Green Revolution Forum. It will be held on the 6th September. I chair this annual event on behalf of AGRA, and some of you will remember previous events we held in Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, and Mozambique.
    I hope the Agric-preneurs will be there in force, and all the smallholder farmers.
    It is going to be a fantastic event this year. Ivory Coast is a country I follow closely.

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Elvis from Ghana writes,

    Yh… Ghana.
    We here too are very poised for change that is coming on SME’s Esp. we the Employpreneurs. We need guidelines to hasten the shift from being employed to managing our businesses. A sure way to liberate Africa.

    The audience at Tanzania was engaging. Great work, Sir.

    My reply,
    You should copyright that word:
    I really love that word.

  10. Ika Martin

    You said when I see an opportunity I should get started. at another point you said Do YOUR homework. By homework you mean research about the idea?When do you know that your idea is fully baked and ready to go out???


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